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THE 

HEART OF 

A GOOF 

By 

P. G.Wodehouse 




-7/ 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 



•^I r 



% 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 



WHAT THIS STORY IS ABOUT 

Golf is the Great Mystery. Like some 
capricious goddess, it bestows its favours 
with what would appear an almost fatheaded 
lack of method and descrimination. Mys- 
terious, but there it is. 

Ferdinand Dibble should have been a com- 
petent golfer — but he was a goof. That he 
loved Barbara Medway was beyond a doubt ; 
but he hadn't the nerve to ask her to marry 
him. Every time he felt he had mustered 
up enough *pep to propose, he took ten on a 
bogey three. And then self-confidence left 
him. How does he achieve his object? 
Many other great golfing problems are solved 
by the Oldest Member. His pertinacity in 
these matters makes him a plus man. 

A real Wodehouse book of humour and golf. 



For List of Books by the same Author, 
see pages 315—317 



THE HEART 
OF A GOOF 



BY 
P. G. WODEHOUSE 



HERBERT JENKINS LIMITED 
3 YORK ST., LONDON, S.W.i 




Sixth printing completing 51,400 copies 



PRINTED IN GREAT ERTTAIN BY 
PUBNELL AND SONS, PAULTON (SOMERSET) AND LONDOH 



SMB 



/'fe-' 



,*•-. 



TO 

My Daughter 
LEONORA 

WITHOUT WHOSE NEVER-FAILING 

SYMPATHY AND ENCOURAGEMENT 

THIS BOOK 

WOULD HAVE BEEN FINISHED 

IN 

HALF THE TIME 



i 



PREFACE 

Before leading the reader out on to this 
little nine-hole course, I should like to say 
a few words on the club-house steps with 
regard to the criticisms of my earlier book 
of Golf stories, The Clicking of Cuthhert. In 
the first place, I noticed with regret a dis- 
position on the part of certain writers to 
speak of Golf as a trivial theme, unworthy 
of the pen of a thinker. In connection with 
this, I can only say that right through the 
ages the mightiest brains have occupied 
themselves with this noble sport, and that 
I err, therefore, if I do err, in excellent 
company. 

Apart from the works of such men as 
James Braid, John Henry Taylor and Horace 
Hutchinson, we find Publius Syrius not 
disdaining to give advice on the back-swing 
("He gets through too late who goes too 
fast"); Diogenes describing the emotions of 
a cheery player at the water-hole ("Be of 
good cheer. I see land"); and Doctor 
Watts, who, watching one of his drives from 



vi PREFACE 

the tee, jotted down the following couplet 
on the back of his score-card: 

Fly, like a youthful hart or roe, 
Over the hills where spices grow. 

And, when we consider that Chaucer, the 
father of English poetry, inserted in his 
Squiere's Tale the line 

Therefore hehoveth him a ful long spoone 

(though, of course, with the modern rubber- 
cored ball an iron would have got the same 
distance) and that Shakespeare himself, 
speaking querulously in the character of a 
weak player who held up an hnpatient 
foursome, said: 

Four rogues in buckram let drive at me 

we may, I think, consider these objections 
answered. 

A far more serious grievance which I have 
against my critics is that many of them 
confessed to the possession of but the slightest 
knowledge of the game, and one actually 
stated in cold print that he did not know 
what a niblick was. A writer on golf is 
certainly entitled to be judged by his peers — 
which, in my own case, means men who do 
one good drive in six, four reasonable ap- 
proaches in an eighteen-hole round, and 



PREFACE vii 

average three putts per green: and I think 
I am justified in asking of editors that they 
instruct critics of this book to append their 
handicaps in brackets at the end of their 
remarks. By this means the pubhc will be 
enabled to form a fair estimate of the worth 
of the volume, and the sting in such critiques 
as "We laughed heartily while reading these 
stories — once — at a misprint" will be sensibly 
diminished by the figures (36) at the bottom 
of the paragraph. While my elation will be 
all the greater should the words "A genuine 
masterpiece" be followed by a simple (scr.). 

One final word. The thoughtful reader, 
comparing this book with The Clicking of 
Cuthhert, will, no doubt, be struck by the 
poignant depth of feeling which pervades 
the present volume like the scent of muddy 
shoes in a locker-room : and it may be that 
he will conclude that, like so many English 
writers, I have fallen under the spell of the 
great Russians. 

This is not the case. While it is, of course, 
true that my style owes much to Dostoievsky, 
the heart-wringing qualities of such stories 
as "The Awakening of Rollo Podmarsh" 
and "Keeping in with Vosper" is due entirely 
to the fact that I have spent much tim^e 
recently plrying on the National Links at 
Southampton, Long Island, U.S.A. These 
links were constructed by an exiled Scot 
who conceived the dreadful idea of assembling 



A2 



viii PREFACE 

on one course all the really foul holes in 
Great Britain. It cannot but leave its mark 
on a man when, after struggling through 
the Sahara at Sandwich and the Alps at 
Prestwick, he finds himself faced by the 
Station-Master's Garden hole at St. Andrew's 
and knows that the Redan and the Eden 
are just round the corner. When you turn 
in a medal score of a hundred and eight on 
two successive days, you get to know some- 
thing about Life. 

And yet it may be that there are a few 
gleams of sunshine in the book. If so, it 
is attributable to the fact that some of it 
was written before I went to Southampton 
and immediately after I had won my first 
and only trophy — an umbrella in a hotel 
tournament at Aiken, South Carolina, where, 
playing to a handicap of sixteen, I went 
through a field consisting of some of the 
fattest retired business-men in America like 
a devouring flame. If we lose the Walker 
Cup this year, let England remember that. 

P. G. WODEHOUSE 

The Sixth Bunker 
Addington 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER 




MOB 


I. 


THE HEART OF A GOOF 


II 


II. 


HIGH STAKES 


47 


III. 


KEEPING IN V^ITH VOSPER . 


8i 


IV. 


CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF . 


112 


V. 


THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS. 


150 


VI. 


THE AV^AKENING OF ROLLO 






PODMARSH . 


181 


VII. 


RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY . 


208 


VIII. 


JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 


244 



IX. THE PURIFICATION OF RODNEY 

SPELVIN . . . 281 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 

CHAPTER I 

THE HEART OF A GOOF 



IT was a morning when all nature shouted 
"Fore!" The breeze, as it blew gently 
up from the valley, seemed to bring a 
message of hope and cheer, whispering ol 
chip-shots holed and brassies landing squarely 
on the meat. The fairway, as yet unscarred 
by the irons of a hundred dubs, smiled greenly 
up at the azure sky ; and the sun, peeping 
above the trees, looked like a giant golf-ball 
perfectly lofted by the mashie of some unseen 
god and about to drop dead by the pin of the ' 
eighteenth. It was the day of the opening 
of the course after the long winter, and a 
crowd of considerable dimensions had col- 
lected at the first tee. Plus fours gleamed in 
the sunshine, and the air was charged with 
happy anticipation. 

In all that gay throng there was but one 
sad face. It belonged to the man who was 
waggline" his driver over the new ball perched 



It 



12 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

on its little hill of sand. This man seemed 
careworn, hopeless. He gazed down the fair- 
way, shifted his feet, waggled, gazed down 
the fairway again, shifted the dogs once 
more, and waggled afresh. He waggled as 
Hamlet might have waggled, moodily, irreso- 
lutely. Then, at last, he swung, and, taking 
from his caddie the niblick which the intel- 
ligent lad had been holding in readiness from 
the moment when he had walked on to the 
tee, trudged wearily off to play his second. 

The Oldest Member, who had been observ- 
ing the scene with a benevolent e3^e from his 
favourite chair on the terrace, sighed. 

"Poor Jenkinson," he said, "does not 
improve." 

"No," agreed his companion, a young man 
with open features and a handicap of six. 
"And yet I happen to know that he has been 
taking lessons all the winter at one of those 
indoor places." 

"Futile, quite futile," said the Sage with a 
shake of his snowy head. "There is no 
wizard living who could make that man go 
round in an average of sevens. I keep advis- 
ing him to give up the game." 

"You!" cried the young man, raising a 
shocked and startled face from the driver 
with which he was toying. " You told him to 
give up golf! Why I thought " 

" I understand and approve of your horror," 
said the Oldest Member, gently. "But you 
must bear in mind that Jenkinson's is not an 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 13 

ordinary case. You know and I know scores 
of men who have never broken a hundred and 
twenty in their Uves, and yet contrive to be 
happy, useful members of society. How- 
ever badly they may play, they are able to 
forget. But with Jenkinson it is different. 
He is not one of those who can take it or leave 
it alone. His only chance of happiness lies 
in complete abstinence. Jenkinson is a 
goof." 

"A what?" 

"A goof," repeated the Sage. "One of 
those unfortunate beings who have allowed 
this noblest of sports to get too great a grip 
upon them, who have permitted it to eat into 
their souls, like some malignant growth. The 
goof, you must understand, is not like you 
and me. He broods. He becomes morbid. 
His goofery unfits him for the battles of life. 
Jenkinson, for example, was once a man with 
a glowing future in the hay, com, and feed 
business, but a constant stream of hooks, 
tops, and slices gradually made him so diffi- 
dent and mistrustful of himself, that he let 
opportunit}^ after opportunity slip, with the 
result that other, sterner, hay, corn, and feed 
merchants passed him in the race. Every 
time he had the chance to carry through some 
big deal in hay, or to execute some flashing 
coup in corn and feed, the fatal diffidence 
generated by a hundred rotten rounds would 
undo him. " I understand his bankruptcy 
may be expected at any moment." 



14 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"My golly!" said the young man, deeply 
impressed. "I hope I never become a goof. 
Do you mean to say there is really no cure 
except giving up the game? " 

The Oldest Member was silent for a while. 

"It is curious that you should have asked 
that question," he said at last, "for only this 
morning I was thinking of the one case in my 
experience where a goof was enabled to over- 
come his deplorable malady. It was owing to 
a girl, of course. The longer I live, the more 
I come to see that most things are. But you 
will, no doubt, wish to hear the story from 
the beginning." 

The young man rose with the startled haste 
of some wild creature, which, wandering 
through the undergrowth, perceives the trap 
in his path. 

"I should love to," he mumbled, "only I 
shall be losing my place at the tee." 

"The goof in question," said the Sage, 
attaching himself with quiet firmness to the 
youth's coat-button, " was a man of about 
your age, by name Ferdinand Dibble. I 
knew him well. In fact, it was to me " 

"Some other time, eh?" 

"It was to me," proceeded the Sage, pla- 
cidly, " that he came for sympathy in the great 
crisis of his life, and I am not ashamed to 
say that when he had finished laying bare his 
soul to me there were tears in my eyes. My 
heart bled for the boy." 

"I bet it did. But " 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 15 

The Oldest Member pushed him gently 
back into his seat. 

"Golf," he said, "is the Great Mystery. 
Like some capricious goddess " 

The young man, who had been exhibiting 
symptoms of feverishness, appeared to become 
resigned. He sighed softly. 

"Did you ever read 'The Ancient Mar- 
iner'? " he said. 

"Many years ago," said the Oldest Member. 
"Why do you ask?" 

"Oh, I don't know," said the young man. 
"It just occurred to me." 

Golf (resumed the Oldest Member) is the 
Great Mystery. Like some capricious god- 
dess, it bestows its favours with what would 
appear an almost fat-headed lack of method 
and discrimination. On every side we see big 
two-fisted he-men floundering round in three 
figures, stopping every few minutes to let 
through little shrimps with knock knees and 
hollow cheeks, who are tearing off snappy 
seventy-fours. Giants of finance have to 
accept a stroke per from their junior clerks. 
Men capable of governing empires fail to 
control a small, white ball, w^hich presents no 
difficulties whatever to others with one ounce iv( 
more brain than a cuckoo-clock. Mysterious, 
but there it is. There was no apparent reason 
why Ferdinand Dibble should not have been 
a competent golfer. He had strong wrists 
and a good eye. Nevertheless, the fact remains 



i6 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

that he was a dub. And on a certain evening 
in June I reahsed that he was also a goof. 
I found it out quite suddenly as the result of 
a conversation which we had on this very 
terrace. 

I was sitting here that evening thinking of 
this and that, when by the corner of the club- 
house I observed young Dibble in conversa- 
tion with a girl in white. I could not see who 
she was, for her back was turned. Pre- 
sently they parted and Ferdinand came 
slowly across to where I sat. His air was 
dejected. He had had the boots licked off 
him earlier in the afternoon by Jimmy Fother- 
gill, and it was to this that I attributed his 
gloom. I was to find out in a few moments 
that I was partly but not entirely correct in 
this surmise. He took the next chair to 
mine, and for several minutes sat staring 
moodity down into the valley. 

"I've just been talking to Barbara Med- 
way," he said, suddenly breaking the silence. 

"Indeed?" I said. "A delightful girl." 

"She's going away for the summer to 
Marvis Bay." 

"She will take the sunshine with her." 

" You bet she will! " said Ferdinand Dibble, 
with extraordinary warmth, and there was 
another long silence. 

Presently Ferdinand uttered a hoUow 
groan. 

"I love her, dammit!" he muttered brok- 
enly. "Oh, golly, how I love her!" 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 17 

I was not surprised at his making me the 
recipient of his confidences hke this. Most 
of the young folk in the place brought their 
troubles to me sooner or later. 

"And does she return your love? " 

*'I don't know. I haven't asked her." 

"Why not? I should have thought the 
point not without its interest for you." 

Ferdinand gnawed the handle of his putter 
distractedly. 

"I haven't the nerve," he burst out at 
length. "I simply can't summon up the 
cold gall to ask a girl, least of all an angel 
like her, to marry me. You see, it's like this. 
Every time I work myself up to the point of 
having a dash at it, I go out and get trimmed 
by someone giving me a stroke a hole. Every 
time I feel I've mustered up enough pep to 
propose, I take ten on a bogey three. Every 
time I think I'm in good mid-season form for 
putting my fate to the test, to win or lose it 
all, something goes all blooey with my swing, 
and I slice into the rough at every tee. And 
then my self-confidence leaves me. I become 
nervous, tongue-tied, diffident. I wish to 
goodness I knew the man who invented this 
infernal game. I'd strangle him. But I 
suppose he's been dead for ages. Still, I 
could go and jump on his grave." 

It was at this point that I understood 
all, and the heart within me sank like lead. 
The truth was out. Ferdinand Dibble was 
a goof. 



i8 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Come, come, my boy," I said, though 
feehng the uselessness of any words. " Mas- 
ter this weakness." 

"I can't." 

"Try!" 

"I have tried." 

He gnawed his putter again. 

"She was asking me just now if I couldn't 
manage to come to Marvis Bay, too," he 
said. 

"That surely is encouraging? It suggests 
that she is not entirely indiSerent to your 
society." 

" Yes, but what's the use? Do you know," 
a gleam coming into his eyes for a moment, 
"I have a feehng that if I could ever beat 
some really fairly good player — just once — I 
could bring the thing off." The gleam faded. 
"But what chance is there of that? " 

It was a question which I did not care to 
answer. I merely patted his shoulder sym- 
pathetically, and after a little while he left 
me and walked away. I was still sitting 
there, thinking over his hard case, when 
Barbara Medway came out of the club-house. 

She, too, seemed grave and pre-occupied, 
as if there was something on her mind. She 
took the chair which Ferdinand had vacated, 
and sighed wearily. 

"Have you ever felt," she asked, "that 
you would like to bang a man on the head 
with something hard and heavy? With 
knobs on? " 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 19 

I said I had sometimes experienced such a 
desire, and asked if she had any particular 
man in mind. She seemed to hesitate for 
a moment before replying, then, apparently, 
made up her mind to confide in me. My 
advanced years carry with them certain 
pleasant compensations, one of which is that 
nice girls often confide in me. I frequently 
find myself enrolled as a father-confessor on 
the most intimate matters by beautiful crea- 
tures from whom many a younger man would 
give his eye-teeth to get a friendly word. 
Besides, I had known Barbara since she was 
a child. Frequently — though not recently — 
I had given her her evening bath. These 
things form a bond. 

"Why are men such chumps?" she ex- 
claimed. 

"You still have not told me who it is that 
has caused these harsh words. Do I know 
him? " 

" Of course you do. You've just been talk- 
ing to him." 

"Ferdinand Dibble? But why should you 
wish to bang Ferdinand Dibble on the head 
with something hard and heavy with knobs 
on.-^ 

"Because he's such a goop." 

"You mean a goof?" I queried, wondering 
how she could have penetrated the unhappy 
man's secret. 

"No, a goop. A goop is a man who's in 
love with a girl and won't tell her so. I am 



20 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

as certain as I am of anything that Ferdinand 
is fond of me." 

"Your instinct is unerring. He has just 
been confiding in me on that very point." 

"Well, why doesn't he confide in me, the 
poor fish? " cried the high-spirited girl, petu- 
lantly flicking a pebble at a passing grass- 
hopper. "I can't be expected to fling myself 
into his arms unless he gives some sort of a 
hint that he's ready to catch me." 

"Would it help if I were to repeat to him 
the substance of this conversation of ours? " 

"If you breathe a word of it, I'll never 
speak to you again," she cried. "I'd rather 
die an awful death than have any man think 
I wanted him so badly that I had to send 
relays of messengers begging him to marry 
me." 

I saw her point. 

"Then I fear," I said, gravely, "that there 
is nothing to be done. One can only wait 
and hope. It may be that in the years to 
come Ferdinand Dibble will acquire a nice 
lissom, wristy swing, with the head kept 
rigid and the right leg firmly braced and " 

"What are you talking about?" 

"I was toying with the hope that some 
sunny day Ferdinand Dibble would cease to 
be a goof." 

"You mean a goop? " 

"No, a goof. A goof is a man who " 

And I went on to explain the peculiar psycho- 
logical difliculties which lay in the way of 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 21 

any declaration of affection on Ferdinand's 
part. 

"But I never heard of anything so ridi- 
culous in my life," she ejaculated. "Do 
you mean to say that he is waiting till he 
is good at golf before he asks me to marry 
him?" 

"It is not quite so simple as that," I said 
sadly. "Many bad golfers marry, feeling 
that a wife's loving solicitude may improve 
their game. But they are rugged, thick- 
skinned men, not sensitive and introspective, 
like Ferdinand. Ferdinand has allowed him- 
self to become morbid. It is one of the chief 
merits of golf that non-success at the game 
induces a certain amount of decent humility, 
which keeps a man from pluming himself too 
much on any petty triumphs he may achieve 
in other walks of life ; but in all things there 
is a happy mean, and with Ferdinand this 
humility has gone too far. It has taken all 
the spirit out of him. He feels crushed and 
worthless. He is grateful to caddies when 
they accept a tip instead of drawing them- 
selves up to their full height and flinging the 
money in his face." 

"Then do you mean that things have got 
to go on like this for ever? " 

I thought for a moment. 

"It is a pity," I said, "that you could not 
have induced Ferdinand to go to Marvis Bay 
for a month or two." 

"Why?" 



22 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Because it seems to me, thinking the 
thing over, that it is just possible that Marvis 
Bay might cure him. At the hotel there he 
would find collected a mob of golfers — I used 
the term in its broadest sense, to embrace the 
paralytics and the men who play left-handed 
— whom even he would be able to beat. When 
I was last at Marvis Bay, the hotel links were 
a sort of Sargasso Sea into which had drifted 
all the pitiful flotsam and jetsam of golf. I 
have seen things done on that course at which 
I shuddered and averted my eyes — and I am 
not a weak man. If Ferdinand can polish 
up his game so as to go round in a fairly 
steady hundred and five, I fancy there is 
hope. But I understand he is not going to 
Marvis Bay." 

"Oh yes, he is," said the girl. 

" Indeed ! He did not tell me that when we 
were talking just now." 

"He didn't know it then. He will when I 
have had a few words with him." 

And she walked with firm steps back into 
the club-house. 

It has been well said that there are many 
kinds of golf, beginning at the top with the 
golf of professionals and the best amateurs and 
working down through the golf of ossified 
men to that of Scotch University professors. 
Until recently this last was looked upon as 
the lowest possible depth; but nowadays, 
with the growing popularity of summer hotels. 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 23 

we are able to add a brand still lower, the 
golf you find at places like Marvis Bay. 

To Ferdinand Dibble, coming from a club 
where the standard of play was rather un- 
usually high, Marvis Bay was a revelation, 
and for some days after his arrival there he 
went about dazed, like a man who cannot 
believe it is really true. To go out on the 
links at this summer resort was like entering 
a new world. The hotel was full of stout, 
middle-aged men, who, after a mis-spent 
youth devoted to making money, had taken 
to a game at which real proficiency can only 
be acquired by those who start playing in 
their cradles and keep their weight down. 
Out on the course each morning you could see 
representatives of every nightmare style that 
was ever invented. There was the man who 
seemed to be attempting to deceive his ball 
and lull it into a false security by looking 
away from it and then making a lightning 
slash in the apparent hope of catching it off 
its guard. There was the man who wielded 
his mid-iron like one killing snakes There 
was the man who addressed his ball as if he 
were stroking a cat, the man who drove as 
if he were cracking a whip, the man who 
brooded over each shot like one whose heart 
is bowed down by bad news from home, and 
the man who scooped with his mashie as if he 
were ladling soup. By the end of the first 
week Ferdinand Dibble was the acknowledged 
champion of the place. He had gone through 



24 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

the entire menagerie like a bullet through a 
cream puff. 

First, scarcely daring to consider the possi- 
bility of success, he had taken on the man who 
tried to catch his ball off its guard and had 
beaten him five up and four to play. Then, 
with gradually growing confidence, he tackled 
in turn the Cat-Stroker, the Whip-Cracker, 
the Heart Bowed Down, and the Soup- 
Scooper, and walked all over their faces with 
spiked shoes. And as these were the leading 
local amateurs, whose prowess the octo- 
genarians and the men who went round in 
bath-chairs vainly strove to emulate, Fer- 
dinand Dibble was faced on the eighth morn- 
ing of his visit by the startling fact that he 
had no more worlds to conquer. He was 
monarch of all he surveyed, and, what is 
more, had won his first trophy, the prize in 
the great medal-play handicap tournament, 
in which he had nosed in ahead of the field by 
two strokes, edging out his nearest rival, a ven- 
erable old gentleman, by means of a brilliant 
and unexpected four on the last hole. The 
prize was a handsome pewter mug, about the 
size of the old oaken bucket, and Ferdinand 
used to go to his room immediately after 
dinner to croon over it like a mother ovei 
her child. 

You are wondering, no doubt, why, in 
these circumstances, he did not take advan- 
tage of the new spirit of exhilarated pride 
which had replaced his old humility and 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 25 

instantly propose to Barbara Medway. I 
will tell you. He did not propose to Barbara 
because Barbara was not there. At the last 
moment she had been detained at home to 
nurse a sick parent and had been compelled 
to postpone her visit for a couple of weeks. 
He could, no doubt, have proposed in one of 
the daily letters which he wrote to her, but 
somehow, once he started writing, he found 
that he used up so much space describing his 
best shots on the links that day that it was 
difficult to squeeze in a declaration of undying 
passion. After all, you can hardly cram that 
sort of thing into a postscript. 

He decided, therefore, to wait till she 
arrived, and meanwhile pursued his con- 
quering course. The longer he waited the 
better, in one way, for every morning and 
afternoon that passed was adding new layers 
to his self-esteem. Day by day in every 
way he grew chestier and chestier. 

Meanwhile, however, dark clouds were 
gathering. Sullen mutterings were to be 
heard in corners of the hotel lounge, and the 
spirit of revolt was abroad. For Ferdinand's 
chestiness had not escaped the notice of his 
defeated rivals. There is nobody so chesty 
as a normally unchesty man who suddenly 
becomes chesty, and I am sorry to say that 
the chestiness which had come to Ferdinand 
was the aggressive type of chestiness which 
breeds enemies. He had developed a habit 



26 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

of holding the game up in order to give his 
opponent advice. The Whip-Cracker had 
not forgiven, and never would forgive, his 
well-meant but galling criticism of his back- 
swing The Scooper, who had always scooped 
since the day when, at the age of sixty-four, 
he subscribed to the Correspondence Course 
which was to teach him golf in twelve lessons 
by mail, resented being told by a snip of a 
boy that the mashie-stroke should be a 
smooth, unhurried swing. The Snake- 
Killer But I need not weary you with 

a detailed recital of these men's grievances ; 
it is enough to say that they all had it in for 
Ferdinand, and one night, after dinner, 
they met in the lounge to decide what was 
to be done about it. 

A nasty spirit was displayed by all. 

"A mere lad telling me how to use my 
mashie!" growled the Scooper. "Smooth 
and unhurried my left eyeball! I get it up, 
don't I? Well, what more do you want? " 

" I keep telling him that mine is the old, full 
St. Andrew swing," muttered the Whip- 
Cracker, between set teeth, "but he won't 
listen to me." 

"He ought to be taken down a peg or two," 
hissed the Snake-Killer. It is not easy to 
hiss a sentence without a single " s" in it, 
and the fact that he succeeded in doing so 
shows to what a pitch of emotion the man 
had been goaded by Ferdinand's maddening 
air of superiority. 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 27 

"Yes, but what can we do?" queried an 
octogenarian, when this last remark had been 
passed on to him down his ear-trumpet. 

"That's the trouble/' sighed the Scooper. 
"WTiat can we do?" And there was a 
sorrowful shaking of heads. 

"I know!" exclaimed the Cat-Stroker, who 
had not hitherto spoken. He was a law^^er, 
and a man of subtle and sinister mind. "I 
have it! There's a boy in my office — young 
Parsloe — who could beat this man Dibble 
hollow. I'll wire him to come down here 
and we'll spring him on this fellow and knock 
some of the conceit out of him." 

There was a chorus of approval. 

"But are you sure he can beat him?" 
asked the Snake-Killer, anxiously. "It 
would never do to make a mistake." 

"Of course I'm sure," said the Cat-Stroker. 
"George Parsloe once went round in ninety- 
four." 

"Many changes there have been since 
ninety-four," said the octogenarian, nodding 
sagely. "Ah, many, many changes. None 
of these motor-cars then, tearing about and 
killing " 

Kindly hands led him off to have an egg- 
and-milk, and the remaining conspirators 
returned to the point at issue with bent 
brows. 

"Ninety-four?" said the Scooper, incredu- 
lously. "Do you mean counting every 
stroke?" 



28 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Counting every stroke." 

"Not conceding himself any putts? '* 

"Not one." 

"Wire him to come at once," said the 
meeting with one voice. 

That night the Cat-Stroker approached 
Ferdinand, smooth, subtle, lawyer-like. 

"Oh, Dibble," he said, "just the man I 
wanted to see. Dibble, there's a young 
friend of mine coming down here who goes 
in for golf a little. George Parsloe is his 
name. I was wondering if you could spare 
time to give him a game. He is just a novice, 
you know." 

"I shall be delighted to play a round with 
him," said Ferdinand, kindly. 

"He might pick up a pointer or two from 
watching you," said the Cat-Stroker. 

"True, true," said Ferdinand. 

"Then I'll introduce you when he shows 
up." 

"Delighted," said Ferdinand. 

He was in excellent humour that night, 
for he had had a letter from Barbara saying 
that she was arriving on the next day but 
one. 

It was Ferdinand's healthy custom of a 
morning to get up in good time and take a 
dip in the sea before breakfast. On the 
morning of the day of Barbara's arrival, he 
arose, as usual, donned his flannels, took a 
good look at the cup, and started out. It 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 29 

was a fine, fresh morning, and he glowed 
both externally and internally. As he 
crossed the links, for the nearest route to the 
water was through the fairway of the seventh, 
he was whistling happily and rehearsing in 
his mind the opening sentences of his proposal. 
For it was his firm resolve that night after 
dinner to ask Barbara to marry him. He 
was proceeding over the smooth turf without 
a care in the world, when there was a sudden 
cry of " Fore! " and the next moment a golf 
ball, missing him by inches, sailed up the fair- 
way and came to a rest fifty yards from 
where he stood. He looked round and 
observed a figure coming towards him from 
the tee. 

The distance from the tee was fully a 
hundred and thirty yards. Add fifty to that, 
and you have a hundred and eighty yards. 
No such drive had been made on the Marvis 
Bay links since their foundation, and such is 
the generous spirit of the true golfer that 
Ferdinand's first emotion, after the not inex- 
cusable spasm of panic caused by the hum of 
the ball past his ear, was one of cordial 
admiration. By some kindly miracle, he 
supposed, one of his hotel acquaintances had 
been permitted for once in his life to time a 
drive right. It was only when the other man 
came up that there began to steal over him 
a sickening apprehension. The faces of all 
those who hewed divots on the hotel course 
were familiar to him, and the fact that this 



30 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

fellow was a stranger seemed to point with 
dreadful certainty to his being the man he 
had agreed to play. 

"Sorry," said the man. He was a tall, 
strikingly handsome youth, with brown eyes 
and a dark moustache. 

"Oh, that's all right," said Ferdinand. 
"Er — do you always drive like that? " 

"Well, I generally get a bit longer ball, 
but Fm off my drive this morning. It's 
lucky I came out and got this practice. Fm 
playing a match to-morrow with a fellow 
named Dibble, who's a local champion, or 
something." 

"Me," said Ferdinand, humbly. 

"Eh? Oh, you?" Mr. Parsloe eyed him 
appraisingly. "Well, may the best man 



wm." 



As this was precisely what Ferdinand was 
afraid was going to happen, he nodded in a 
sickly manner and tottered off to his bathe. 
The magic had gone out of the morning. The 
sun still shone, but in a silly, feeble way; 
and a cold and depressing wind had sprung 
up. For Ferdinand's inferiority complex, 
which had seemed cured for ever, was back 
again, doing business at the old stand. 

How sad it is in this life that the moment 
to which we have looked forward with the 
most glowing anticipation so often turns out 
on arrival, flat, cold, and disappointing. For 
ten days Barbara Medway had been living 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 31 

for that meeting with Ferdinand, when, 
getting out of the train, she would see him 
popping about on the horizon with the love- 
light sparkling in his eyes and words of 
devotion trembling on his lips. The poor 
girl never doubted for an instant that he 
would unleash his pent-up emotions inside 
the first five minutes, and her only worry 
was lest he should give an embarrassing 
publicity to the sacred scene by falling on his 
knees on the station platform. 

"Well, here I am at last," she cried gaily. 

"Hullo!" said Ferdinand, with a twisted 
smile. 

The girl looked at him, chilled. How 
could she know that his peculiar manner was 
due entirely to the severe attack of cold feet 
resultant upon his meeting with George 
Parsloe that morning? The interpretation 
which she placed upon it was that he was 
not glad to see her. If he had behaved like 
this before, she would, of course, have put 
it down to ingrowing goofery, but now she 
had his written statements to prove that for 
the last ten days his golf had been one long 
series of triumphs. 

"I got your letters," she said, persevering 
bravely. 

"I thought you would," said Ferdinand, 
absently. 

"You seem to have been doing wonders." 

"Yes." 

There was a silence. 



32 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Have a nice journey?" said Ferdinand. 

"Very," said Barbara. 

She spoke coldly, for she was madder than 
a wet hen. She saw it all now. In the ten 
days since they had parted, his love, she 
realised, had waned. Some other girl, met 
in the romantic surroundings of this pic- 
turesque resort, had supplanted her in his 
affections. She knew how quickly Cupid 
gets off the mark at a summer hotel, and for 
an instant she blamed herself for ever having 
been so ivory-skulled as to let him come to 
this place alone. Then regret was swallowed 
up in wrath, and she became so glacial that 
Ferdinand, who had been on the point of tell- 
ing her the secret of his gloom, retired into 
his shell and conversation during the drive 
to the hotel never soared above a certain 
level. Ferdinand said the sunshine was nice 
and Barbara said yes, it was nice, and Fer- 
dinand said it looked pretty on the water, 
and Barbara said yes, it did look pretty on 
the water, and Ferdinand said he hoped it 
was not going to rain, and Barbara said yes, 
it would be a pity if it rained. And then 
there was another lengthy silence. 

"How is my uncle?" asked Barbara at 
last. 

I omitted to mention that the individual 
to whom I have referred as the Cat-Stroker 
was Barbara's mother's brother, and her 
host at Marvis Bay. 

"Your uncle?" 



<( 






THE HEART OF A GOOF 33 

His name is Tuttle. Have you met him? " 

"Oh yes. I've seen a good deal of him. 
He has got a friend staying with him," said 
Ferdinand, his mind returning to the matter 
nearest his heart. " A fellow named 
Parsloe.'* 

Oh, is George Parsloe here? How jolly! " 
Do you know him?" barked Ferdinand, 
hollowly. He would not have supposed that 
anything could have added to his existing 
depression, but he was conscious now of 
having slipped a few rungs farther down the 
ladder of gloom. There had been a horribly 
joyful ring in her voice. Ah, well, he reflected 
morosely, how like life it all was ! We never 
know what the morrow may bring forth. We 
strike a good patch and are beginning to think 
pretty well of ourselves, and along comes a 
George Parsloe. 

"Of course I do," said Barbara. "Why, 
there he is." 

The cab had drawn up at the door of the 
hotel, and on the porch George Parsloe was 
airing his graceful person. To Ferdinand's 
fevered eye he looked like a Greek god, and 
his inferiority complex began to exhibit symp- 
toms of elephantiasis. How could he com- 
pete at love or golf with a fellow who looked 
as if he had stepped out of the movies and 
considered himself off his drive when he did 
a hundred and eighty yards? 

"Geor-gee!" cried Barbara, blithely. 
"Hullo, George!" 



34 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Why, hullo, Barbara!" 

They fell into pleasant conversation, while 
Ferdinand hung miserably about in the 
offing. And presently, feeling that his 
society was not essential to their happiness, 
he slunk away. 

George Parsloe dined at the Cat-Stroker's 
table that night, and it was with George Par- 
sloe that Barbara roamed in the moonlight 
after dinner. Ferdinand, after a profitless 
hour at the billiard-table, went early to his 
room. But not even the rays of the moon, 
glinting on his cup, could soothe the fever 
in his soul. He practised putting sombrely 
into his tooth-glass for a while; then, going 
to bed, fell at last into a troubled sleep. 

Barbara slept late the next morning and 
breakfasted in her room. Coming down 
towards noon, she found a strange emptiness 
in the hotel. It was her experience of summer 
hotels that a really fine day like this one was 
the cue for half the inhabitants to collect in 
the lounge, shut all the windows, and talk 
about conditions in the jute industry. To 
her surprise, though the sun was streaming 
down from a cloudless sky, the only occupant 
of the lounge was the octogenarian with the 
ear-trumpet. She observed that he was 
chuckling to himself in a senile manner. 

"Good morning," she said, politely, for she 
had made his acquaintance on the previous 
evening. 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 35 

"Hey?" said the octogenarian, suspending 
his chuckHng and getting his trumpet into 
position. 

"I said 'Good morning!'" roared Bar- 
bara into the receiver. 

"Hey?" 

"Good morning!" 

"Ah! Yes, it's a very fine morning, a very 
fine morning. If it wasn't for missing my bun 
and glass of milk at twelve sharp," said the 
octogenarian, "I'd be down on the links. 
That's where I'd be, down on the links. If 
it wasn't for missing my bun and glass of 
milk." 

This refreshment arriving at this moment, 
he dismantled the radio outfit and began to 
restore his tissues. 

"Watching the match," he explained, 
pausing for a moment in his bun-mangling. 

"What match?" 

The octogenarian sipped his milk. 

"What match? " repeated Barbara. 

"Hey?" 

"What match?" 

The octogenarian began to chuckle again 
and nearly swallowed a crumb the wrong way. 

"Take some of the conceit out of him," 
he gurgled. 

"Out of who?" asked Barbara, knowing 
perfectly well that she should have said 
" whom." 

"Yes," said the octogenarian. 

"Who is conceited? " 



36 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Ah! This young fellow, Dibble. Very 
conceited. I saw it in his eye from the first, 
but nobody would listen to me. Mark my 
words, I said, that boy needs taking down a 
peg or two. Well, he's going to be this 
morning. Your uncle wired to young Par- 
sloe to come down, and he's arranged a 

match between them. Dibble " Here 

the octogenarian choked again and had to 
rinse himself out with milk, "Dibble doesn't 
know that Parsloe once went round in ninety- 
four!" 

"What?" 

Everything seemed to go black to Barbara. 
Through a murky mist she appeared to be 
looking at a negro octogenarian, sipping ink. 
Then her eyes cleared, and she found herself 
clutching for support at the back of a chair. 
vShe understood now. She realised why 
Ferdinand had been so distrait, and her whole 
heart went out to him in a spasm of maternal 
pity. How she had wronged him! 

"Take some of the conceit out of him," 
the octogenarian was mumbling, and Barbara 
felt a sudden sharp loathing for the old man. 
For two pins she could have dropped a beetle 
in his milk. Then the need for action roused 
her. What action? She did not know. All 
she knew was that she must act. 

"Oh!" she cried. 

"Hey?" said the octogenarian, bringing 
his trumpet to the ready. 

But Barbara had gone. 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 37 

It was not far to the links, and Barbara 
covered the distance on flying feet. She 
reached the club-house, but the course was 
empty except for the Scooper, who was pre- 
paring to drive off the first tee. In spite of 
the fact that something seemed to tell her 
subconsciously that this was one of the sights 
she ought not to miss, the girl did not wait 
to watch. Assuming that the match had 
started soon after breakfast, it must by now 
have reached one of the holes on the second 
nine. She ran down the hill, looking to left 
and right, and was presently aware of a group 
of spectators clustered about a green in the 
distance. As she hurried towards them they 
moved away, and now she could see Ferdi- 
nand advancing to the next tee. With a thrill 
that shook her whole body she realised that 
he had the honour. So he must have won 
one hole, at any rate. Then she saw hei 
uncle. 

"How are they?" she gasped. 

Mr. Tuttle seemed moody. It was appar- 
ent that things were not going altogether to 
his liking. 

"All square at the fifteenth," he rephed, 
gloomily. 

"All square!" 

"Yes. Young Parsloe," said Mr. Tuttle 
with a sour look in the direction of that 
lissom athlete, "doesn't seem to be able to 
do a thing right on the greens. He has been 
putting like a sheep with the botts." 



38 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

From the foregoing remark of Mr. Tuttle 
you will, no doubt, have gleaned at least a 
clue to the mystery of how Ferdinand Dibble 
had managed to hold his long-driving adver- 
sary up to the fifteenth green, but for all 
that you will probably consider that some 
further explanation of this amazing state of 
affairs is required. Mere bad putting on the 
part of George Parsloe is not, you feel, suffi- 
cient to cover the matter entirely. You are 
right. There was another very important 
factor in the situation — to wit, that by some 
extraordinary chance Ferdinand Dibble had 
started right off from the first tee, playing 
the game of a lifetime. Never had he made 
such drives, never chipped his chips so 
shrewdly. 

About Ferdinand's driving there was as a 
general thing a fatal stiffness and over- 
caution which prevented success. And with 
his chip-shots he rarely achieved accuracy 
owing to his habit of rearing his head like the 
lion of the jungle just before the club struck 
the ball. But to-day he had been swinging 
with a careless freedom, and his chips had 
been true and clean. The thing had puzzled 
him all the way round. It had not elated 
him, for, owing to Barbara's aloofness and 
the way in which she had gambolled about 
George Parsloe, like a young lamb in the 
springtime, he was in too deep a state of dejec- 
tion to be elated by anything. And now, 
suddenly, in a flash of clear vision, he 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 39 

perceived the reason why he had been playing 
so well to-day. It was just because he was 
not elated. It was simply because he was so 
profoundly miserable. 

That was what Ferdinand told himself as 
he stepped off the sixteenth, after hitting 
a screamer down the centre of the fairway, 
and I am convinced that he was right. Like 
so many indifferent golfers, Ferdinand 
Dibble had always made the game hard for 
himself by thinking too much. He was a 
deep student of the works of the masters, and 
whenever he prepared to play a stroke he had 
a complete mental list of all the mistakes which 
it was possible to make. He would remem- 
ber how Taylor had warned against dipping 
the right shoulder, how Vardon had inveighed 
against any movement of the head ; he would 
recall how Ray had mentioned the tendency 
to snatch back the club, how Braid had 
spoken sadly of those who sin against their 
better selves by stiffening the muscles and 
heaving. 

The consequence was that when, after 
waggling in a frozen manner till mere shame 
urged him to take some definite course of 
action, he eventually swung, he invariably 
proceeded to dip his right shoulder, stiffen 
his muscles, heave, and snatch back the club, 
at the same time raising his head sharply as 
in the illustrated plate (" Some Frequent 
Faults of Beginners — No. 3 — Lifting the 
Bean ") facing page thirty-four of James 

B2 



40 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Braid's Golf Without Tears. To-day he 
had been so preoccupied with his broken 
heart that he had made his shots absently, 
almost carelessly, with the result that at 
least one in every three had been a lallapa- 
loosa. 

Meanwhile, George Parsloe had driven off 
and the match was progressing. George was 
feeling a httle flustered by now. He had 
been given to understand that this bird 
Dibble was a hundred-at-his-best man, and 
all the way round the fellow had been reeling 
off fives in great profusion, and had once 
actually got a four. True, there had been an 
occasional six, and even a seven, but that 
did not alter the main fact that the man was 
making the dickens of a game of it. With 
the haughty spirit of one who had once 
done a ninety-four, George Parsloe had an- 
ticipated being at least three up at the turn. 
Instead of which he had been two down, 
and had had to fight strenuously to draw 
level. 

Nevertheless, he drove steadily and well, 
and would certainly have won the hole had it 
not been for his weak and sinful putting. The 
same defect caused him to halve the seven- 
teenth, after being on in two, with Ferdinand 
wandering in the desert and only reaching 
the green with his fourth. Then, however, 
Ferdinand holed out from a distance of seven 
yards, getting a five; which George's three 
putts just enabled him to equal. 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 41 

Barbara had watched the proceedings with 
a beating heart. At first she had looked on 
from afar; but now, drawn as by a magnet, 
she approached the tee. Ferdinand was driv- 
ing off. She held her breath. Ferdinand 
held his breath. And all around one could 
see their respective breaths being held by 
George Parsloe, Mr. Tuttle, and the enthralled 
crowd of spectators. It was a moment of 
the acutest tension, and it was broken by 
the crack of Ferdinand's driver as it met 
the ball and sent it hopping along the 
ground for a mere thirty yards. At this 
supreme crisis in the match Ferdinand 
Dibble had topped. 

George Parsloe teed up his ball. There 
was a smile of quiet satisfaction on his face. 
He snuggled the driver in his hands, and gave 
it a preliminary swish. This, felt George 
Parsloe, was where the happy ending came. 
He could drive as he had never driven before. 
He would so drive that it would take his 
opponent at least three shots to catch up 
with him. He drew back his club with 
infinite caution, poised it at the top of the 
swing 

"I always wonder " said a clear, girlish 

voice, ripping the silence like the explosion 
of a bomb. 

George Parsloe started. His club wobbled. 
It descended. The ball trickled into the 
long grass in front of the tee. There was a 
grim pause. 



42 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"You were saying, Miss Medway " 

said George Parsloe, in a small, flat voice. 

"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Barbara. "I'm 
afraid I put you off." 

"A little, perhaps. Possibly the merest 
trifle. But you were saying you wondered 
about something. Can I be of any assist- 
ance? " 

"I was only saying," said Barbara, 
"that I always wonder why tees are called 
tees." 

George Parsloe swallowed once or twice. 
He also blinked a little feverishly. His eyes 
had a dazed, staring expression. 

"I am afraid I cannot tell you off-hand," 
he said, "but I will make a point of consult- 
ing some good encyclopaedia at the earliest 
opportunity." 

"Thank you so much." 

" Not at all. It will be a pleasure. In case 
you were thinking of inquiring at the moment 
when I am putting why greens are called 
greens, may I venture the suggestion now that 
it is because they are green? " 

And, so saying, George Parsloe stalked to 
his ball and found it nestling in the heart 
of some shrub of which, not being a botanist, 
I cannot give you the name. It was a close- 
knit, adhesive shrub, and it twined its ten- 
tacles so lovingly around George Parsloe's 
niblick that he missed his first shot altogether. 
His second made the ball rock, and his third 
dislodged it. Playing a full swing with his 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 43 

brassie and being by now a mere cauldron of 
seething emotions he missed his fourth. His 
fifth came to within a few inches of Fer- 
dinand's drive, and he picked it up and hurled 
it from him into the rough as if it had been 
something venomous. 

"Your hole and match," said George 
Parsloe, thinly. 

Ferdinand Dibble sat beside the glittering 
ocean. He had hurried off the course with 
swift strides the moment George Parsloe had 
spoken those bitter words. He wanted to be 
alone with his thoughts. 

They were mixed thoughts. For a moment 
joy at the reflection that he had won a tough 
match came irresistibly to the surface, only 
to sink again as he remembered that life, 
whatever its triumphs, could hold nothing 
for him now that Barbara Medway loved 
another. 

"Mr. Dibble!" 

He looked up. She was standing at his 
side. He gulped and rose to his feet. 

"Yes?" 

There was a silence. 

"Doesn't the sun look pretty on the 
water? " said Barbara. 

Ferdinand groaned. This was too much. 

"Leave me," he said, hollowly. "Go back 
to your Parsloe, the man with whom you 
walked in the moonlight beside this same 
water." 



44 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Well, why shouldn't I walk with Mr. 
Parsloe in the moonlight beside this same 
water? " demanded Barbara, with spirit. 

"I never said," repUed Ferdinand, for he 
was a fair man at heart, "that you shouldn't 
walk with Mr. Parsloe beside this same water. 
I simply said you did walk with Mr. Parsloe 
beside this same water." 

"I've a perfect right to walk with Mr. 
Parsloe beside this same water," persisted 
Barbara. "He and I are old friends." 

Ferdinand groaned again. 

"Exactly! There you are! As I sus- 
pected. Old friends. Played together as 
children, and what not, I shouldn't wonder." 

"No, we didn't. I've only known him five 
years. But he is engaged to be married to 
my greatest chum, so that draws us together." 

Ferdinand uttered a strangled cry. 

"Parsloe engaged to be married!" 

"Yes. The wedding takes place next 
month." 

"But look here." Ferdinand's forehead 
was wrinkled. He was thinking tensely. 
"Look here," said Ferdinand, a close 
reasoner. "If Parsloe's engaged to your 
greatest chum, he can't be in love with yott." 

"No." 

"And you aren't in love with him? " 

"No." 

"Then, by gad," said Ferdinand, "how 
about it?" 

"What do you mean? " 



THE HEART OF A GOOF 45 

"Will you marry me?" bellowed Fer- 
dinand. 
"Yes." 
"You will?" 
"Of course I will." 
" Darling ! " cried Ferdinand. 

" There is only one thing that bothers me a 
bit," said Ferdinand, thoughtfully, as they 
strolled together over the scented meadows, 
while in the trees above them a thousand 
birds trilled Mendelssohn's Wedding March. 

"What is that?" 

" Well, I'll teU you," said Ferdinand. " The 
fact is, I've just discovered the great secret 
of golf. You can't play a really hot game 
unless you're so miserable that you don't 
worry over your shots. Take the case of a 
chip-shot, for instance. If you're really 
wretched, you don't care where the ball is 
going and so you don't raise your head to see. 
Grief automatically prevents pressing and 
over-swinging. Look at the top-notchers. 
Have you ever seen a happy pro? " 

"No. I don't think I have." 

"Well, then!" 

"But pros are all Scotchmen," argued y( 
Barbara. 

"It doesn't matter. I'm sure I'm right. 
And the darned thing is that I'm going to 
be so infernally happy all the rest of my fife 
that I suppose my handicap will go up to 
thirty or something." 



46 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Barbara squeezed his hand lovingly. 

"Don't worry, precious," she said, sooth- 
ingly. " It will be all right. I am a woman, 
and, once we are married, I shall be able to 
think of at least a hundred ways of snootering 
you to such an extent that you'll be fit to 
win the Amateur Championship." 

"You will?" said Ferdinand, anxiously. 
"You're sure? " 

"Quite, quite sure, dearest," said Barbara. 

"My angel!" said Ferdinand. 

He folded her in his arms, using the inter- 
locking grip. 



CHAPTER II 

HIGH STAKES 

THE summer day was drawing to a 
close. Over the terrace outside the 
club-house the chestnut trees threw 
long shadows, and such bees as still lingered 
in the flower-beds had the air of tired business 
men who are about ready to shut up the oflice 
and go off to dinner and a musical comedy. 
The Oldest Member, stirring in his favourite 
chair, glanced at his watch and yawned. 

As he did so, from the neighbourhood of 
the eighteenth green, hidden from his view 
by the slope of the ground, there came 
suddenly a medley of shrill animal cries, 
and he deduced that some belated match 
must just have reached a finish. His surmise 
was correct. The babble of voices drew nearer, 
and over the brow of the hill came a little 
group of men. Two, who appeared to be the 
ringleaders in the affair, were short and stout. 
One was cheerful and the other dejected. 
The rest of the company consisted of friends 
and adherents; and one of these, a young 

47 



48 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

man who seemed to be amused, strolled to 
where the Oldest Member sat. 

"What," inquired the Sage, "was all the 
shouting for? " 

The young man sank into a chair and 
lighted a cigarette. 

"Perkins and Broster," he said, "were all 
square at the seventeenth, and they raised the 
stakes to fifty pounds. They were both on the 
green in seven, and Perkins had a two-foot 
putt to halve the match. He missed it by six 
inches. They play pretty high, those two." 

"It is a curious thing," said the Oldest 
Member, "that men whose golf is of a kind 
that makes hardened caddies wince always 
do. The more competent a player, the 
smaller the stake that contents him. It is 
only when you get down into the submerged 
tenth of the golfing world that you find the 
big gambling. However, I would not call 
fifty pounds anything sensational in the 
case of two men like Perkins and Broster. 
They are both well provided with the world's 
goods. If you would care to hear the 
story " 

The young man's jaw fell a couple of notches. 

"I had no idea it was so late," he bleated. 

"I ought to be " 

-of a man who played for really high 



stakes- 



I promised to " 

-1 will tell it to you," said the Sage. 



"Look here," said the young man, sullenly, 



HIGH STAKES 49 

"it isn't one of those stories about two men 
who fall in love with the same girl and play a 
match to decide which is to marry her, is it? 
Because if so " 

"The stake to which I allude," said the 
Oldest Member, "was something far higher 
and bigger than a woman's love. Shall I 
proceed? " 

" All right," said the young man, resignedly. 
"Snap into it." 

It has been well said — I think by the man 
who wrote the sub- titles for "Cage-Birds of 
Society" (began the Oldest Member)— that 
wealth does not always bring happiness. It 
was so with Bradbury Fisher, the hero of 
the story which I am about to relate. One 
of America's most prominent tainted million- 
aires, he had two sorrows in life — his handicap 
refused to stir from twenty-four and his 
wife disapproved of his collection of famous 
golf relics. Once, finding him crooning over 
the trousers in which Ouimet had won his 
historic replay against Vardon and Ray in 
the American Open, she had asked him why 
he did not collect something worth while, hke 
Old Masters or first editions. 

Worth while! Bradbury had forgiven, for 
he loved the woman, but he could not forget. 

For Bradbury Fisher, like so many men 
who have taken to the game in middle age, 
after a youth misspent in the pursuits of 
commerce, was no half-hearted enthusiast. 



50 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Although he still occasionally descended on 
Wall Street in order to pry the small investor 
loose from another couple of million, what he 
really lived for now was golf and his collection. 
He had begun tne collection in his first year 
as a golfer, and he prized it dearly. And 
when he reflected that his wife had stopped 
him purchasing J. H. Taylor's shirt-stud, 
which he could have had for a few hundred 
pounds, the iron seemed to enter into his soul. 
The distressing episode had occurred in 
London, and he was now on his way back 
to New York, having left his wife to continue 
her holiday in England. All through the 
voyage he remained moody and distrait; 
and at the ship's concert, at which he was 
forced to take the chair, he was heard to 
observe to the purser that if the alleged 
soprano who had just sung "My Little Grey 
Home in the West" had the immortal gall to 
take a second encore he hoped that she would 
trip over a high note and dislocate her neck. 

Such was Bradbury Fisher's mood through- 
out the ocean journey, and it remained con- 
stant until he arrived at his palatial home at 
Goldenville, Long Island, where, as he sat 
smoking a moody after-dinner cigar in the 
Versailles drawing-room. Blizzard, his English 
butler, informed him that Mr. Gladstone Bott 
desired to speak to him on the telephone. 

"Tell him to go and boil himself," said 
Bradbury. 



HIGH STAKES 51 

"Very good, sir." 

"No, I'll tell him myself," said Bradbury. 
He strode to the telephone. "Hullo!" he 
said, curtly. 

He was not fond of this Bott. There are 
certain men who seem fated to go through 
life as rivals. It was so with Bradbury 
Fisher and J. Gladstone Bott. Born in the 
same town within a few days of one another, 
they had come to New York in the same week ; 
and from that moment their careers had run 
side by side. Fisher had made his first million 
two days before Bott, but Bott's first divorce 
had got half a column and two sticks more 
publicity than Fisher's. 

At Sing-Sing, where each had spent several 
happy years of early manhood, they had run 
neck and neck for the prizes which that insti- 
tution has to offer. Fisher secured the posi- 
tion of catcher on the baseball nine in prefer- 
ence to Bott, but Bott just nosed Fisher out 
when it came to the choice of a tenor for the 
glee club. Bott was selected for the debating 
contest against Auburn, but Fisher got the 
last place on the crossword puzzle team, with 
Bott merely first reserve. 

They had taken up golf simultaneously, 
and their handicaps had remained level ever 
since. Between such men it is not surprising 
that there was little love lost. 

" Hullo ! " said Gladstone Bott. " So you're 
back? Say, listen, Fisher. I think I've got 
something that'll interest you. Something 



52 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

you'll be glad to have in your golf collec- 
tion." 

Bradbury Fisher's mood softened. He dis- 
liked Bott, but that was no reason for not 
doing business with him. And though he had 
little faith in the man's judgment it might 
be that he had stumbled upon some valuable 
antique. There crossed his mind the comfor- 
ting thought that his wife was three thousand 
miles away and that he was no longer under 
her penetrating eye — that eye which, so to 
speak, was always "about his bath and 
about his bed and spying out all his ways." 

"I've just returned from a trip down 
South," proceeded Bott, "and I have secured 
the authentic baffy used by Bobby Jones 
in his first important contest — the Infants' 
AU-In Championship of Atlanta, Georgia, 
open to those of both sexes not yet having 
finished teething." 

Bradbury gasped. He had heard rumours 
that this treasure was in existence, but he 
had never credited them. 

"You're sure?" he cried. "You're posi- 
tive it's genuine? " 

"I have a written guarantee from Mr. 
Jones, Mrs. Jones, and the nurse." 

"How much, Bott, old man?" stammered 
Bradbury. "How much do you want for it, 
Gladstone, old top? I'll give you a hundred 
thousand dollars." 

'|Ha!" 

"Five hundred thousand." 



HIGH STAKES 53 

"fla, ha!" 

*'A million." 

"Ha, ha, ha!" 

"Two million." 

"Ha, ha, ha, ha!" 

Bradbury Fisher's strong face twisted hke 
that of a tortured fiend. He registered in 
quick succession rage, despair, hate, fury, 
anguish, pique, and resentment. But when 
he spoke again his voice was soft and gentle. 

"Gladdy, old socks," he said, "we have 
been friends for years." 

"No, we haven't," said Gladstone Bott. 

"Yes, we have." 

"No, we haven't." 

"Well, anyway, what about two million 
five hundred? " 

"Nothing doing. Say, listen. Do you 
really want that baffy? " 

"I do, Botty, old egg, I do indeed." 

" Then listen. I'll exchange it for Blizzard." 

"For Blizzard?" quavered Fisher. 

"For Blizzard." 

It occurs to me that, when describing the 
closeness of the rivalry between these two 
men I may have conveyed the impression that 
in no department of life could either claim a 
definite advantage over the other. If that 
is so, I erred. It is true that in a general 
way, whatever one had, the other had some- 
thing equally good to counterbalance it; 
but in just one matter Bradbury Fisher had 
triumphed completely over Gladstone Bott. 



54 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Bradbury Fisher had the finest EngUsh butler 
on Long Island. 

Blizzard stood alone. There is a regrettable 
tendency on the part of English butlers to-day 
to deviate more and more from the type which 
made their species famous. The modern 
butler has a nasty knack of being a lissom 
young man in perfect condition who looks 
like the son of the house. But Blizzard 
was of the fine old school. Before coming 
to the Fisher home he had been for fifteen 
years in the service of an earl, and his appear- 
ance suggested that throughout those fifteen 
years he had not let a day pass without its 
pint of port. He radiated port and pop- 
eyed dignity. He had splay feet and three 
chins, and when he walked his curving waist- 
coat preceded him like the advance guard 
of some royal procession. 

From the first, Bradbury had been per- 
fectly aware that Bott coveted Blizzard, and 
the knowledge had sweetened his life. But 
this was the first time he had come out into 
the open and admitted it. 

"Blizzard?" whispered Fisher. 

"Blizzard," said Bott firmly. "It's my 
wife's birthday next week, and I've been 
wondering what to give her." 

Bradbury Fisher shuddered from head to 
foot, and his legs wobbled like asparagus 
stalks. Beads of perspiration stood out on 
his forehead. The serpent was tempting 
him — tempting him grievously. 



HIGH STAKES 55 

" You're sure you won't take three million — 
or four — or something like that?" 

"No; I want Blizzard." 

Bradbury Fisher passed his handkerchief 
over his streaming brow. 

" So be it," he said in a low voice. 

The Jones baffy arrived that night, and for 
some hours Bradbury Fisher gloated over it 
with the unmixed joy of a collector who has 
secured the prize of a lifetime. Then, steahng 
gradually over him, came the realisation of 
what he had done. 

He was thinking of his wife and what she 
would say when she heard of this. Blizzard 
was Mrs. Fisher's pride and joy. She had 
never, like the poet, nursed a dear gazelle, 
but, had she done so, her attitude towards it 
would have been identical with her attitude 
towards Blizzard. Although so far away, it 
was plain that her thoughts still lingered 
with the pleasure she had left at home, for on 
his arrival Bradbury had found three cables 
awaiting him. 

The first ran: 

"How is Blizzard? Reply." 

The second: 

"How is Blizzard's sciatica? Reply." 

The third : 

"Blizzard's hiccups. How are they? 
Suggest Doctor Murphy's Tonic Swamp- 
Juice. Highly spoken of. Three times a 



56 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

day after meals. Try for week and cable 
result." 

It did not require a clairvoyant to tell 
Bradbury that, if on her return she found 
that he had disposed of Blizzard in exchange 
for a child's cut-down baffy, she would cer- 
tainly sue him for divorce. And there was 
not a jury in America that would not give 
their verdict in her favour without a dis- 
sentient voice. His first wife, he recalled, 
had divorced him on far flimsier grounds. 
So had his second, third, and fourth. And 
Bradbury loved his wife. There had been 
a time in his life when, if he lost a wife, he 
had felt philosophically that there would 
be another along in a minute; but, as a 
man grows older, he tends to become set 
in his habits, and he could not contemplate 
existence without the company of the present 
incumbent. 

What, therefore, to do? What, when you 
came right down to it, to do? 

There seemed no way out of the dilemma. 
If he kept the Jones baffy, no other price 
would satisfy Bott's jealous greed. And 
to part with the baffy, now that it was 
actually in his possession, was unthinkable. 

And then, in the small hours of the morn- 
ing, as he tossed sleeplessly on his Louis 
Quinze bed, his giant brain conceived a plan. 

On the following afternoon he made his 
way to the club-house, and was informed 



HIGH STAKES 57 

that Bott was out playing a round with 
another miUionaire of his acquaintance. 
Bradbury waited, and presently his rival 
appeared. 

"Hey! " said Gladstone Bott, in his abrupt 
uncouth way. "When are you going tc 
deliver that butler? " 

"I will make the shipment at the earliest 
date," said Bradbury. 

"I was expecting him last night." 

"You shall have him shortly." 

"What do you feed him on?" asked 
Gladstone Bott. 

"Oh, anything you have yourselves. Put 
sulphur in his port in the hot weather. Tell 
me, how did your match go? " 

"He beat me. I had rotten luck." 

Bradbury Fisher's eyes gleamed. His mo- 
ment had come. 

"Luck?" he said. "What do you mean, 
luck? Luck has nothing to do with it. You're 
always beefing about your luck. The trouble 
with you is that you play rottenly." 

"What!" 

"It is no use trying to play golf unless 
you learn the first principles and do it 
properly. Look at the way you drive." 

"What's wrong with my driving? " 

"Nothing, except that you don't do any- 
thing right. In driving, as the club comes 
back in the swing, the weight should be 
shifted by degrees, quietly and gradually, 
until, when the club has reached its top- 



58 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

most point, the whole weight of the body 
is supported by the right leg, the left foot 
being turned at the time and the left knee 
bent in toward the right leg. But, regard- 
less of how much you perfect your style, 
you cannot develop any method which will 
not require you to keep your head still so 
that you can see your ball clearly." 

"Hey!" 

"It is obvious that it is impossible to 
introduce a jerk or a sudden violent effort 
into any part of the swing without disturbing 
the balance or moving the head. I want 
to drive home the fact that it is absolutely 
essential to " 

"Hey!" cried Gladstone Bott. 

The man was shaken to the core. From 
the local pro, and from scratch men of his 
acquaintance, he would gladly have listened 
to this sort of thing by the hour, but to 
hear these words from Bradbury Fisher, 
whose handicap was the same as his own, 
and out of whom it was his unperishable 
conviction that he could hammer the tar 
any time he got him out on the links, was 
too much. 

"Where do you get off," he demanded, 
heatedly, "trying to teach me golf?" 

Bradbury Fisher chuckled to himself. 
Everything was working out as his subtle 
mind had foreseen. 

"My dear fellow," he said, "I was only 
speaking for your good." 



HIGH STAKES 59 

"I like your nerve! I can lick you any 
time we start." 

"It's easy enough to talk." 

"I trimmed you twice the week before 
you sailed to England." 

"Naturally," said Bradbury Fisher, "in 
a friendly round, with only a few thousand 
dollars on the match, a man does not extend 
himself. You wouldn't dare to play me for 
anything that really mattered." 

"I'll play you when you like for anything 
you like." 

"Very well. I'll play you for Blizzard." 

"Against what?" 

"Oh, anything you please. How about a 
couple of railroads?" 

"Make it three." 

"Very well." 

"Next Friday suit you? " 

"Sure," said Bradbury Fisher. 

It seemed to him that his troubles were 
over. Like all twenty-four handicap men, 
he had the most perfect confidence in his 
ability to beat all other twenty-four handicap 
men. As for Gladstone Bott, he knew that 
he could disembowel him any time he was 
able to lure him out of the club-house. 

Nevertheless, as he breakfasted on the 
morning of the fateful match, Bradbury 
Fisher was conscious of an unwonted nervous- 
ness. He was no weakling. In Wall Street 
his phlegm in moments of stress was a by- 



6o THE HEART OF A GOOF 

word. On the famous occasion when the 
B. and G. crowd had attacked C. and D., 
and in order to keep control of L. and M. he 
had been compelled to buy so largely of S. 
and T., he had not turned a hair. And yet 
this morning, in endeavouring to prong up 
segments of bacon, he twice missed the plate 
altogether and on a third occasion speared 
himself in the cheek with his fork. The 
spectacle of Blizzard, so calm, so competent, 
so supremely the perfect butler, unnerved him. 

"I am jumpy to-day, Blizzard," he said, 
forcing a laugh. 

"Yes, sir. You do, indeed, appear to 
have the willies." 

"Yes. I am playing a very important 
golf-match this morning." 

"Indeed, sir?" 

"I must pull myself together. Blizzard." 

"Yes, sir. And, if I may respectfully 
make the suggestion, you should endeavour, 
when in action, to keep the head down and 
the eye rigidly upon the ball." 

"I will. Blizzard, I will," said Bradbury 
Fisher, his keen eyes clouding under a sudden 
mist of tears. "Thank you, Blizzard, for 
the advice." 

"Not at all, sir." 

"How is your sciatica. Blizzard?" 

"A trifle improved, I thank you, sir." 

"And your hiccups?" 

"I am conscious of a slight though possibly 
only a temporary relief, sir." 



HIGH STAKES 6i 

"Good," said Bradbury Fisher. 

He left the room with a firm step; and 
proceeding to his Ubrary, read for a while 
portions of that grand chapter in James 
Braid's "Advanced Golf" which deals with 
driving into the wind. It was a fair and 
cloudless morning, but it was as well to 
be prepared for emergencies. Then, feeling 
that he had done all that could be done, 
he ordered the car and was taken to the links. 

Gladstone Bott was awaiting him on the 
first tee, in company with two caddies. 
A curt greeting, a spin of the coin, and 
Gladstone Bott, securing the honour, stepped 
out to begin the contest. 

Although there are, of course, endless 
sub-species in their ranks, not all of which 
have yet been classified by science, twenty- 
four handicap golfers may be stated broadly 
to fall into two classes, the dashing and the 
cautious — those, that is to say, who endeavour 
to do every hole in a brilliant one and those 
who are content to win with a steady nine. 
Gladstone Bott was one of the cautious bri- 
gade. He fussed about for a few moments 
like a hen scratching gravel, then with a stiff 
quarter-swing sent his ball straight down the 
fairway for a matter of seventy yards, and it 
was Bradbury Fisher's turn to drive. 

Now, normally, Bradbury Fisher was 
essentially a dasher. It was his habit, as 
a rule, to raise his left foot some six inches 



62 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

from the ground, and having swayed force- 
fully back on to his right leg, to sway 
sharply forward again and lash out with 
sickening violence in the general direction 
of the ball. It was a method which at times 
produced excellent results, though it had 
the flaw that it was somewhat uncertain. 
Bradbury Fisher was the only member of 
the club, with the exception of the club 
champion, who had ever carried the second 
green with his drive ; but, on the other 
hand, he was also the only member who 
had ever laid his drive on the eleventh dead 
to the pin of the sixteenth. 

But to-day the magnitude of the issues 
at stake had wrought a change in him. 
Planted firmly on both feet, he fiddled 
at the ball in the manner of one playing 
spillikens. When he swung, it was with a 
swing resembling that of Gladstone Bott; 
and, like Bott, he achieved a nice, steady, 
rainbow-shaped drive of some seventy yards 
straight down the middle. Bott replied with 
an eighty-yard brassy shot. Bradbury held 
him with another. And so, working their 
way cautiously across the prairie, they came 
to the green, where Bradbury, laying his 
third putt dead, halved the hole. 

The second was a repetition of the first, 
the third and fourth repetitions of the 
second. But on the fifth green the fortunes 
of the match began to change. Here 
Gladstone Bott, faced with a fifteen-foot 



HIGH STAKES 63 

putt to win, smote his ball firmly off the 
line, as had been his practice at each of 
the preceding holes, and the ball, hitting 
a worm-cast and bounding off to the left, 
ran on a couple of yards, hit another worm- 
cast, bounded to the right, and finally, 
bumping into a twig, leaped to the left again 
and clattered into the tin. 

"One up," said Gladstone Bott. "Tricky, 
some of these greens are. You have to 
gauge the angles to a nicety." 

At the sixth a donkey in an adjoining field 
uttered a raucous bray just as Bott was 
addressing his ball with a mashie-niblick on 
the edge of the green. He started violently 
and, jerking his club with a spasmodic 
reflex action of the forearm, holed out. 

"Nice work," said Gladstone Bott. 

The seventh was a short hole, guarded by 
two large bunkers between which ran a 
narrow footpath of turf. Gladstone Bott's 
mashie-shot, falling short, ran over the rough, 
peered for a moment into the depths to 
the left, then, winding up the path, trickled 
on to the green, struck a fortunate slope, 
acquired momentum, ran on, and dropped 
into the hole. 

"Nearly missed it," said Gladstone Bott, 
drawing a deep breath. 

Bradbury Fisher looked out upon a world 
that swam and danced before his eyes. 
He had not been prepared for this sort 



64 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

of thing. The way things were shaping, 
he felt that it would hardly surprise him 
now if the cups were to start jumping up 
and snapping at Bott's ball hke starving dogs. 

"Three up," said Gladstone Bott. 

With a strong effort Bradbury Fisher 
mastered his feelings. His mouth set grimly. 
Matters, he perceived, had reached a 
crisis. He saw now that he had made a 
mistake in allowing himself to be intimidated 
by the importance of the occasion into 
being scientific. Nature had never intended 
him for a scientific golfer, and up till now 
he had been behaving like an animated 
illustration out of a book by Vardon. He 
had taken his club back along and near the 
turf, allowing it to trend around the legs 
as far as was permitted by the movement 
of the arms. He had kept his right elbow 
close to the side, this action coming into 
operation before the club was allowed to 
describe a section of a circle in an upward 
direction, whence it was carried by means of a 
slow, steady, swinging movement. He had 
pivoted, he had pronated the wrists, and he 
had been careful about the lateral hip-shift. 

And it had been all wrong. That sort of 
stuff might suit some people, but not him. 
He was a biffer, a swatter, and a slosher; 
and it flashed upon him now that only by 
biffing, swatting, and sloshing as he had never 
biffed, swatted, and sloshed before could he 
hope to recover the ground he had lost. 



HIGH STAKES 65 

Gladstone Bott was not one of those 
players who grow careless with success. 
His drive at the eighth was just as steady 
and short as ever. But this time Bradbury 
Fisher made no attempt to imitate him. 
For seven holes he had been checking his 
natural instincts, and now he drove with all 
the banked-up fury that comes with release 
from long suppression. 

For an instant he remained poised on 
one leg like a stork ; then there was a whistle 
and a crack, and the ball, smitten squarely 
in the midriff, flew down the course and, 
soaring over the bunkers, hit the turf 
and gambolled to within twenty yards of 
the green. 

He straightened out the kinks in his spine 
with a grim smile. Allowing himself the 
regulation three putts, he would be down 
in five, and only a miracle could give 
Gladstone Bott anything better than a seven. 

"Two down," he said some minutes later, 
and Gladstone Bott nodded sullenly. 

It was not often that Bradbury Fisher 
kept on the fairway with two consecutive 
drives, but strange things were happening 
to-day. Not only was his drive at the ninth 
a full two hundred and forty yards, but 
it was also perfectly straight. 

"One down," said Bradbury Fisher, and 
Bott nodded even more sullenly than before. 

There are few things more demoralising 
than to be consistently outdriven ; and when 



66 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

he is outdriven by a hundred and seventy 
yards at two consecutive holes the bravest 
man is apt to be shaken. Gladstone Bott 
was only human. It was with a sinking 
heart that he watched his opponent heave 
and sway on the tenth tee; and when the 
ball once more flew straight and far down 
the course a strange weakness seemed to 
come over him. For the first time he lost 
his morale and topped. The ball trickled 
into the long grass, and after three fruitless 
stabs at it with a niblick he picked up, and 
the match was squared. 

At the eleventh Bradbury Fisher also 
topped, and his tee-shot, though nice and 
straight, travelled only a couple of feet. 
He had to scramble to halve in eight. 

The twelfth was another short hole; and 
Bradbury, unable to curb the fine, careless 
rapture which had crept into his game, had 
the misfortune to overshoot the green by 
some sixty yards, thus enabling his opponent 
to take the lead once more. 

The thirteenth and fourteenth were halved, 
but Bradbury, driving another long ball, 
won the fifteenth, squaring the match. 

It seemed to Bradbury Fisher, as he took 
his stand on the sixteenth tee, that he 
now had the situation well in hand. At 
the thirteenth and fourteenth his drive had 
flickered, but on the fifteenth it had come 
back in all its glorious vigour and there 



HIGH STAKES 67 

appeared to be no reason to suppose that 
it had not come to stay. He recollected 
exactly how he had done that last colossal 
slosh, and he now prepared to reproduce the 
movements precisely as before. The great 
thing to remember was to hold the breath 
on the back-swing and not to release it 
before the moment of impact. Also, the 
eyes should not be closed until late in the 
down-swing. All great golfers have their 
little secrets, and that was Bradbury's. 

With these aids to success firmly fixed in 
his mind, Bradbury Fisher prepared to give 
the ball the nastiest bang that a golf-ball 
had ever had since Edward Blackwell was 
in his prime. He drew in his breath and, 
with lungs expanded to their fullest capacity, 
heaved back on to his large, fiat right foot. 
Then, clenching his teeth, he lashed out. 

When he opened his eyes, they fell upon 
a horrid spectacle. Either he had closed 
those eyes too soon or else he had breathed 
too precipitately — whatever the cause, the 
ball, which should have gone due south, 
was travelling with great speed sou' -sou' - 
east. And, even as he gazed, it curved to 
earth and fell into as uninviting a bit of 
rough as he had ever penetrated. And he 
was a man who had spent much time in 
many roughs. 

Leaving Gladstone Bott to continue his 
imitation of a spavined octogenarian rolling 



68 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

peanuts with a toothpick, Bradbury Fisher, 
followed by his caddie, set out on the long 
trail into the jungle. 

Hope did not altogether desert him as he 
walked. In spite of its erratic direction, 
the ball had been so shrewdly smitten that 
it was not far from the green. Provided 
luck was with him and the lie not too 
desperate, a mashie would put him on the 
carpet. It was only when he reached the 
rough and saw what had happened that his 
heart sank. There the ball lay, half hidden 
in the grass, while above it waved the strag- 
ghng tentacle of some tough-looking shrub. 
Behind it was a stone, and behind the 
stone, at just the elevation required to 
catch the back-swing of the club, was a tree. 
And, by an ironical stroke of fate which 
drew from Bradbury a hollow, bitter laugh, 
only a few feet to the right was a beautiful 
smooth piece of turf from which it would 
have been a pleasure to play one's second. 

Dully, Bradbury looked round to see how 
Bott was getting on. And then suddenly, as 
he found that Bott was completely invisible 
behind the belt of bushes through which he 
had just passed, a voice seemed to whisper 
to him, "Why not?'* 

Bradbury Fisher, remember, had spent 
thirty years in Wall Street. 

It was at this moment that he realised 
that he was not alone. His caddie was 
standing at his side. 



HIGH STAKES 69 

Bradbury Fisher gazed upon the caddie, 
whom until now he had not had any occasion 
to observe with any closeness. 

The caddie was not a boy. He was a man, 
apparently in the middle forties, with bushy 
eyebrows and a walrus moustache; and 
there was something about his appearance 
which suggested to Bradbury that here was 
a kindred spirit. He reminded Bradbury 
a little of Spike Huggins, the safe-blower, 
who had been a fresher with him at Sing- 
Sing. It seemed to him that this caddie 
could be trusted in a delicate matter in- 
volving secrecy and silence. Had he been 
some babbling urchin, the risk might have 
been too great. 

"Caddie," said Bradbury. 

*'Sir?" said the caddie. 

*' Yours is an ill-paid job," said Bradbury. 

"It is, indeed, sir," said the caddie. 

"Would you like to earn fifty dollars?" 

"I would prefer to earn a hundred." 

"I meant a hundred," said Bradbury. 

He produced a roll of bills from his pocket, 
and peeled off one of that value. Then, 
stooping, he picked up his ball and placed 
it on the little oasis of turf. The caddie 
bowed intelligently. 

"You mean to say," cried Gladstone 
Bott, a few moments later, "that you 
were out with your second? With your 
second ! " 

"I had a stroke of luck." 



70 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"You're sure it wasn't about six strokes 
of luck?" 

"My ball was right out in the open in an 
excellent lie." 

"Oh!" said Gladstone Bott, shortly. 

"I have four for it, I think." 

"One down," said Gladstone Bott. 

"And two to play," trilled Bradbury. 

It was with a light heart that Bradbury 
Fisher teed up on the seventeenth. The 
match, he felt, was as good as over. The 
whole essence of golf is to discover a way 
of getting out of rough without losing 
strokes; and with this sensible, broad- 
minded man of the world caddying for him 
he seemed to have discovered the ideal way. 
It cost him scarcely a pang when he saw 
his drive slice away into a tangle of long 
grass, but for the sake of appearances he 
affected a little chagrin. 

"Tut, tut!" he said. 

"I shouldn't worry," said Gladstone Bott. 
* ' You will probably find it sitting upon an india- 
rubber tee which someone has dropped there." 

He spoke sardonically, and Bradbury did 
not like his manner. But then he never 
had liked Gladstone Bott's manner, so what 
of that? He made his way to where the 
ball had fallen. It was lying under a bush. 

"Caddie," said Bradbury. 

"Sir?" said the caddie. 

"A hundred?" 
And fifty." 



(( 



HIGH STAKES 71 

"And fifty," said Bradbury Fisher. 

Gladstone Bott was still toiling along the 
fairway when Bradbury reached the green. 

"How many?" he asked, eventually 
winning to the goal. 

"On in two," said Bradbury. "And you? " 
'Playing seven." 

"Then let me see. If you take two putts, 
which is most unlikely, I shaU have six for 
the hole and match." 

A minute later Bradbury had picked up 
his ball out of the cup. He stood there, 
basking in the sunshine, his heart glowing 
with quiet happiness. It seemed to him that 
he had never seen the countryside looking so 
beautiful. The birds appeared to be singing 
as they had never sung before. The trees 
and the rolling turf had taken on a charm 
beyond anything he had ever encountered. 
Even Gladstone Bott looked almost bearable. 

"A very pleasant match," he said, cordially, 
"conducted throughout in the most sporting 
spirit. At one time I thought you were going to 
pull it off, old man, but there — class will tell." 

"I will now make my report," said the 
caddie with the walrus moustache. 

"Do so," said Gladstone Bott, briefly. 

Bradbury Fisher stared at the man with 
blanched cheeks. The sun had ceased to 
shine, the birds had stopped singing. The 
trees and the rolling turf looked pretty 
rotten, and Gladstone Bott perfectly foul. 
His heart was leaden with a hideous dread. 



C2 



72 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

* ' Your report ? Your — your report ? What 
do you mean? " 

"You don't suppose," said Gladstone Bott, 
"that I would play you an important match 
unless I had detectives watching you, do 
you? This gentleman is from the Quick 
Results Agency. What have you to report? " 
he said, turning to the caddie. 

The caddie removed his bushy eyebrows, 
and with a quick gesture swept off his mous- 
tache. 

"On the twelfth inst.," he began in a 
monotonous, sing-song voice, "acting upon 
instructions received, I made my way to the 
Goldenville Golf Links in order to observe 
the movements of the man Fisher. I had 
adopted for the occasion the Number Three 
disguise and " 

"All right, all right," said Gladstone Bott, 
impatiently. "You can skip all that. Come 
down to what happened at the sixteenth." 

The caddie looked wounded, but he bowed 
deferentially. 

"At the sixteenth hole the man Fisher 
moved his ball into what — from his actions 
and furtive manner — I deduced to be a more 
favourable position." 

"Ah!" said Gladstone Bott. 

"On the seventeenth the man Fisher picked 
up his ball and threw it with a movement 
of the wrist on to the green." 

"It's a lie. A foul and contemptible lie," 
shouted Bradbury Fisher. 



HIGH STAKES 73 

"Realising that the man Fisher might 
adopt this attitude, sir," said the caddie, 
"I took the precaution of snapshotting him 
in the act with my miniature wrist-watch 
camera, the detective's best friend." 

Bradbury Fisher covered his face with 
his hands and uttered a hollow groan. 

"My match," said Gladstone Bott, with 
vindictive triumph. "I'll trouble you to 
deliver that butler to me f.o.b. at my 
residence not later than noon to-morrow. 
Oh yes, and I was forgetting. You owe me 
three railroads." 

Blizzard, dignified but kindly, met Brad- 
bury in the Byzantine hall on his return 
home. 

"I trust your golf-match terminated 
satisfactorily, sir? " said the butler. 

A pang, almost too poignant to be borne, 
shot through Bradbury. 

"No, Blizzard," he said. "No. Thank 
you for your kind inquiry, but I was not 
in luck." 

"Too bad, sir," said Blizzard, sympa- 
thetically. "I trust the prize at stake was 
not excessive? " 

"Well — er — well, it was rather big. I 
should like to speak to you about that a 
little later. Blizzard." 

"At any time that is suitable to you, sir. 
If you will ring for one of the assistant-under- 
footmen when you desire to see me, sir, he 



74 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

will find me in my pantry. Meanwhile, sir, 
this cable arrived for you a short while 
back." 

Bradbury took the envelope listlessly. He 
had been expecting a communication from 
his London agents announcing that they 
had bought Kent and Sussex, for which he 
had instructed them to make a firm offer 
just before he left England. No doubt this 
was their cable. 

He opened the envelope, and started as if 
it had contained a scorpion. It was from 
his wife. 

"Returning immediately ' Aquitania,' " {it 
ran). "Docking Friday night. Meet with 
out fail." 

Bradbury stared at the words, frozen to 
the marrow. Although he had been in a sort 
of trance ever since that dreadful moment on 
the seventeenth green, his great brain had 
not altogether ceased to function; and, 
while driving home in the car, he had 
sketched out roughly a plan of action which, 
he felt, might meet the crisis. Assuming that 
Mrs. Fisher was to remain abroad for another 
month, he had practically decided to buy a 
daily paper, insert in it a front-page story 
announcing the death of Blizzard, forward 
the clipping to his wife, and then sell his 
house and move to another neighbourhood. 
In this way it might be that she would never 
learn of what had occurred. 



HIGH STAKES 75 

But if she was due back next Friday, the 
scheme fell through and exposure was in- 
evitable. 

He wondered dully what had caused her 
change of plans, and came to the conclusion 
that some feminine sixth sense must have 
warned her of peril threatening Blizzard. 
With a good deal of peevishness he wished 
that Providence had never endowed women 
with this sixth sense. A woman with merely 
five took quite enough handling. 

"Sweet suffering soup-spoons!" groaned 
Bradbury. 

"Sir?" said Blizzard. 

"Nothing," said Bradbury. 

"Very good, sir," said Blizzard. 

For a man with anything on his mind, 
any little trouble calculated to affect 
the joie de vivre, there are few spots less 
cheering than the Customs sheds of New 
York. Draughts whistle dismally there — 
now to, now fro. Strange noises are heard. 
Customs officials chew gum and lurk grimly 
in the shadows, like tigers awaiting the 
luncheon-gong. It is not surprising that 
Bradbury's spirits, low when he reached 
the place, should have sunk to zero long 
before the gangplank was lowered and the 
passengers began to stream down it. 

His wife was among the first to land. How 
beautiful she looked, thought Bradbury, as he 
watched her. And, alas, how intimidating. 



76 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

His tastes had always lain in the direction 
of spirited women. His first wife had 
been spirited. So had his second, third, 
and fourth. And the one at the moment 
holding office was perhaps the most spirited 
of the whole platoon. For one long instant, 
as he went to meet her, Bradbury Fisher 
was conscious of a regret that he had not 
married one of those meek, mild girls who 
suffer uncomplainingly at their husband's 
hands in the more hectic type of feminine 
novel. What he felt he could have done 
with at the moment was the sort of wife 
who thinks herself dashed lucky if the other 
half of the sketch does not drag her round 
the billiard-room by her hair, kicking her 
the while with spiked shoes. 

Three conversational openings presented 
themselves to him as he approached her. 

"Darling, there is something I want to 
tell you " 

"Dearest, I have a small confession to 
make " 



<( 



Sweetheart, I don't know if by any 
chance you remember Blizzard, our butler. 
Well, it's like this " 

But, in the event, it was she who spoke 
first. 

"Oh, Bradbury," she cried, rushing into 
his arms, "I've done the most awful thing, 
and you must try to forgive me ! " 

Bradbury blinked. He had never seen her 
in this strange mood before. As she clung 



HIGH STAKES 77 

to him, she seemed timid, fluttering, and — 
although a woman who weighed a full hun- 
dred and fifty-seven pounds — almost fragile. 

" What is it ? " he inquired, tenderly. " Has 
somebody stolen your jewels?" 

"No, no." 

"Have you been losing money at bridge?" 

"No, no. Worse than that." 

Bradbury started. 

"You didn't sing 'My Little Grey Home 
in the West' at the ship's concert?" he 
demanded, eyeing her closely. 

"No, no! Ah, how can I tell you? Brad- 
bury, look! You see that man over there?" 

Bradbury followed her pointing finger. 
Standing in an attitude of negligent dignity 
beside a pile of trunks under the letter V 
was a tall, stout, ambassadorial man, at the 
very sight of whom, even at this distance, 
Bradbury Fisher felt an odd sense of in- 
feriority. His pendulous cheeks, his curving 
waistcoat, his protruding eyes, and the 
sequence of rolling chins combined to 
produce in Bradbury that instinctive feeling 
of being in the presence of a superior which 
we experience when meeting scratch golfers, 
head-waiters of fashionable restaurants, and 
traffic-policemen. A sudden pang of suspicion 
pierced him. 

"Well? " he said, hoarsely. "What of him?" 

"Bradbury, you must not judge me too 
harshly. We were thrown together and I 
was tempted— — " 



78 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Woman," thundered Bradbury Fisher, 
"who is this man? " 

"His name is Vosper." 

"And what is there between you and 
him, and when did it start, and why and 
how and where ? " 

Mrs. Fisher dabbed at her eyes with her 
handkerchief. 

"It was at the Duke of Bootle's, Brad- 
bury. I was invited there for the week- 
end." 

"And this man was there? "' 

"Yes." 

**Ha! Proceed!" 

"The moment I set eyes on him, some- 
thing seemed to go all over me." 

"Indeed!" 

"At first it was his mere appearance. I 
felt that I had dreamed of such a man all 
my life, and that for all these wasted years 
I had been putting up with the second- 
best." 

"Oh, you did, eh? Really? Is that 
so? You did, did you? " snorted Bradbury 
Fisher. 

"I couldn't help it, Bradbury. I know I 
have always seemed so devoted to Blizzard, 
and so I was. But, honestly, there is no 
comparison between them — really there 
isn't. You should see the way Vosper stood 
behind the Duke's chair. Like a high priest 
presiding over some mystic religious cere- 
mony. And his voice when he asks you if 



HIGH STAKES 79 

you will have sherry or hock! Like the 
music of some wonderful organ. I couldn't 
resist him. I approached him delicately, 
and found that he was willing to come to 
America. He had been eighteen years with 
the Duke, and he told me he couldn't stand 
the sight of the back of his head any longer. 
So " 

Bradbury Fisher reeled. 

"This man — this Vosper. Who is he?" 

"Why, I'm telling you, honey. He was 
the Duke's butler, and now he's ours. Oh, 
you know how impulsive I am. Honestly, 
it wasn't till we were half-way across the 
Atlantic that I suddenly said to myself, 
'What about Blizzard?' What am I to 
do, Bradbury? I simply haven't the nerve 
to fire Bhzzard. And yet what will happen 
when he walks into his pantry and finds 
Vosper there? Oh, think, Bradbury, 
think!" 

Bradbury Fisher was thinking — and for 
the first time in a week without agony. 

"Evangeline," he said, gravely, "this is 
awkward." 

"I know." 

"Extremely awkward.** 

"I know, I know. But surely you can 
think of some way out of the muddle!" 

"I may. I cannot promise, but I may." 
He pondered deeply. "Ha! I have it! It 
is just possible that I may be able to induce 
Gladstone Bott to take on Blizzard " 



8o THE HEART OF A GOOF 






Do you really think he would?" 
He may — if I play my cards carefully. 
At any rate, I will try to persuade him. 
For the moment you and Vosper had better 
remain in New York, while I go home and 
put the negotiations in train. If I am 
successful, I will let you know." 

"Do try your very hardest." 

"I think I shall be able to manage it. 
Gladstone and I are old friends, and he 
would stretch a point to oblige me. But let 
this be a lesson to you, Evangeline." 

"Oh, I wiU." 

"By the way," said Bradbury Fisher, "I 
am cabling my London agents to-day to 
instruct them to buy J. H. Taylor's shirt- 
stud for my collection." 

"Quite right, Bradbury darling. And any- 
thing else you want in that way you will get, 
won't you? " 

"I will," said Bradbury Fisher. 



CHAPTER III 

KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 

THE young man in the heather-mixture 
plus fours, who for some time had 
been pacing the terrace above the 
ninth green Hke an imprisoned jaguar, flung 
himself into a chair and uttered a snort of 
anguish. 

"Women/* said the young man, "are the 
limit." 

The Oldest Member, ever ready to sympa- 
thise with youth in affliction, turned a 
courteous ear. 

"What," he inquired, "has the sex been 
pulling on you now? " 

"My wife is the best little woman in the 
world." 

"I can readily believe it." 

"But," continued the young man, "I 
would like to bean her with a brick, and bean 
her good. I told her, when she wanted to 
play a round with me this afternoon, that we 
must start early, as the days are drawing in. 
What did she do? Having got into her 

8i 



«2 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

things, she decided that she didn't Hke the 
look of them and made a complete change. 
She then powdered her nose for ten minutes. 
And when finally I got her on to the first tee, 
an hour late, she went back into the club- 
house to 'phone to her dressmaker. It will 
be dark before we've played six holes. If I 
had my way, golf-clubs would make a rigid 
rule that no wife be allowed to play with her 
husband." 

The Oldest Member nodded gravely. 

"Until this is done," he agreed, "the 
millennium cannot but be set back indefi- 
nitely. Although we are told nothing about 
it, there can be little doubt that one of Job's 
chief trials was that his wife insisted on 
playing golf with him. And, as we are on 
this topic, it may interest you to hear a story." 

"I have no time to listen to stories now." 

"If your wife is telephoning to her dress- 
maker, you have ample time," replied the 
Sage. "The story which I am about to 
relate deals with a man named Bradbury 
Fisher " 

"You told me that one.'* 

"I think not." 

"Yes, you did. Bradbury Fisher was a 
Wall Street millionaire who had an English 
butler named Blizzard, who had been fifteen 
years with an earl. Another millionaire 
coveted Blizzard, and they played a match 
for him, and Fisher lost. But, just as he was 
wondering how he could square himself with 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 83 

his wife, who valued BUzzard very highly, 
Mrs. Fisher turned up from England with a 
still finer butler named Vosper, who had been 
eighteen years with a duke. So all ended 
happily." 

"Yes," said the Sage. "You appear to 
have the facts correctly. The tale which I 
am about to relate is a sequel to that story, 
and runs as follows : 

You say (began the Oldest Member) that 
all ended happily. That was Bradbury 
Fisher's opinion, too. It seemed to Brad- 
bury in the days that followed Vesper's 
taking of office as though Providence, recog- 
nising his sterling merits, had gone out of its 
way to smooth the path of life for him. The 
weather was fine ; his handicap, after remain- 
ing stationary for many years, had begun to 
decrease; and his old friend Rupert Worple 
had just come out of Sing-Sing, where he had 
been taking a post-graduate course, and was 
paying him a pleasant visit at his house in 
Goldenville, Long Island. 

The only thing, in fact, that militated 
against Bradbury's complete tranquillity was 
the information he had just received from his 
wife that her mother, Mrs. Lora Smith Maple- 
bury, was about to infest the home for an 
indeterminate stay. 

Bradbury had never liked his wives' 
mothers. His first wife, he recalled, had had 
a particularly objectionable mother. So 



84 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

had his second, third, and fourth. And the 
present holder of the title appeared to him 
to be scratch. She had a habit of sniffing 
in a significant way whenever she looked at 
him, and this can never make for a spirit 
of easy comradeship between man and woman. 
Given a free hand, he would have tied a brick 
to her neck and dropped her in the water- 
hazard at the second ; but, realising that this 
was but a Utopian dream, he sensibly decided 
to make the best of things and to content 
himself with jumping out of window whenever 
she came into a room in which he happened 
to be sitting. 

His mood, therefore, as he sat in his Louis 
Quinze library on the evening on which this 
story opens, was perfectly contented. And 
when there was a knock at the door and 
Vosper entered, no foreboding came to warn 
him that the quiet peace of his life was about 
to be shattered. 

"Might I have a word, sir?" said the 
butler. 

"Certainly, Vosper. What is it? " 

Bradbury Fisher beamed upon the man. 
For the hundredth time, as he eyed him, he 
reflected how immeasurably superior he was 
to the departed Blizzard. Blizzard had been 
fifteen years with an earl, and no one disputes 
that earls are all very well in their way. 
But they are not dukes. About a butler 
who has served in a ducal household there is 
something which cannot be duplicated by 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 85 

one who has passed the formative years of 
his butlerhood in humbler surroundings. 

"It has to do with Mr. Worple, sir." 

"What about him?" 

"Mr. Worple," said the butler, gravely, 
"must go. I do not like his laugh, sir." 

"Eh?" 

"It is too hearty, sir. It would not have 
done for the Duke." 

Bradbury Fisher was an easy-going man, 
but he belonged to a free race. For freedom 
his fathers had fought and, if he had heard 
the story correctly, bled. His eyes flashed. 

"Oh!" he cried. "Oh, indeed!" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Is zat so? " 

"Yes, sir." 

"Well, let me tell you something, Bill ^" 

"My name is Hildebrand, sir." 

"Well, let me tell you, whatever yout 
scarlet name is, that no butler is going to 
boss me in my own home. You can darned 
well go yourself." 

"Very good, sir." 

Vosper withdrew like an ambassador who 
has received his papers; and presently there 
was a noise without like hens going through 
a hedge, and Mrs. Fisher plunged in. 

"Bradbury," she cried, "are you mad? 
Of course Mr. Worple must go if Vosper says 
so. Don't you realise that Vosper will leave 
us if we don't humour him? " 

"I should worry about him leaving!" 



86 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

A strange, set look came into Mrs. Fisher's 
face. 

"Bradbury," she said, "if Vosper leaves us, 
I shall die. And, what is more, just before 
dying I shall get a divorce. Yes, I will." 

"But, darling," gasped Bradbury, "Rupert 
Worple! Old Rupie Worplel We've been 
friends all our lives." 

"I don't care." 

"We were freshers at Sing-Sing together." 

"I don't care." 

"We were initiated into the same Frat, 
the dear old Cracka-Bitta-Rock, on the same 
day." 

"I don't care. Heaven has sent me the 
perfect butler, and I'm not going to lose him." 

There was a tense silence. 

"Ah, well!" said Bradbury Fisher with a 
deep sigh. 

That night he broke the news to Rupert 
Worple. 

"I never thought," said Rupert Worple 
sadly, "when we sang together on the glee- 
club at the old Alma Mater, that it would 
ever come to this." 

"Nor I," said Bradbury Fisher. "But so 
it must be. You wouldn't have done for the 
Duke, Rupie, you wouldn't have done for 
the Duke." 

"Good-bye, Number 8,097,564," said 
Rupert Worple in a low voice. 

"Good-bye, Number 8,097,565," whispered 
Bradbury Fisher. 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 87 

And with a silent hand-clasp the two 
friends parted. 

With the going of Rupert Worple a grey 
cloud seemed to settle upon the glowing radi- 
ance of Bradbury Fisher's life. Mrs. Lora 
Smith Maplebury duly arrived ; and, having 
given a series of penetrating sniffs as he 
greeted her in the entrance-hall, dug herself 
in and settled down to what looked like the 
visit of a lifetime. And then, just as Brad- 
bury's cup seemed to be full to over-flowing, 
Mrs. Fisher drew him aside one evening. 

"Bradbury," said Mrs. Fisher. "I have 
some good news for you." 

"Is your mother leaving?" asked Brad- 
bury eagerly. 

"Of course not. I said good news. I am 
taking up golf again." 

Bradbury Fisher clutched at the arms of 
his chair, and an ashen pallor spread itself 
over his clean-cut face. 

"What did you say?" he muttered. 

" I'm taking up golf again. Won't it be nice? 
We'll be able to play together every day." 

Bradbury Fisher shuddered strongly. It 
was many years since he had played with his 
wife, but, like an old wound, the memory of 
it still troubled him occasionally. 

"It was Vosper's idea." 

"Vosper!" 

A sudden seething fury gripped Bradbury. 
This pestilent butler was an absolute home- 



88 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

wrecker. He toyed with the idea of poisoning 
Vosper's port. Surely, if he were to do so, 
a capable lawyer could smooth things over 
and get him ofi with, at the worst, a nominal 
fine. 

"Vosper says I need exercise. He says he 
does not like my wheezing." 

"Your what?" 

"My wheezing. I do wheeze, you know." 

"Well, so does he." 

"Yes, but a good butler is expected to 
wheeze. A wheezing woman is quite a 
different thing. My wheezing would never 
have done for the Duke, Vosper says." 

Bradbury Fisher breathed tensely. 

"Ha!" he said. 

" I think it's so nice of him, Bradbury. It 
shows he has our interests at heart, just like 
a faithful old retainer. He says wheezing is 
an indication of heightened blood-pressure 
and can be remedied by gentle exercise. So 
we'll have our first round to-morrow morning, 
shall we? " 

"Just as you say," said Bradbury dully. 
"I had a sort of date to make one of a 
foursome with three men at the club, 
but " 

"Oh, you don't want to play with those 
silly men any more. It will be much nicer, 
just you and I playing together." 

It has always seemed to me a strange 
and unaccountable thing that nowadays, 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 89 

when gloom is at such a premium in the 
world's literature and all around us stem 
young pessimists are bringing home the 
bacon with their studies in the greyly grim, 
no writer has thought of turning his pen 
to a realistic portrayal of the golfing wife. 
No subject could be more poignant, and 
yet it has been completely neglected. One 
can only suppose that even modern novel- 
ists feel that the hne should be drawn 
somewhere. 

Bradbury Fisher's emotions, as he stood 
by the first tee watching his wife prepare to 
drive off, were far beyond my poor power 
to describe. Compared with him at that 
moment, the hero of a novel of the Middle 
West would have seemed almost offensively 
chirpy. This was the woman he loved, and 
she was behaving in a manner that made the 
iron sink deep into his soul. 

Most women golfers are elaborate wagglers, 
but none that Bradbury had ever seen had 
made quite such a set of Swedish exercises 
out of the simple act of laying the clubhead 
behind the ball and raising it over the right 
shoulder. For fully a minute, it seemed to 
him, Mrs. Fisher fiddled and pawed at the 
ball; while Bradbury, realising that there 
are eighteen tees on a course and that this 
Russian Ballet stuff was consequently going 
to happen at least seventeen times more, 
quivered in agony and clenched his hands 
till the knuckles stood out white under the 



90 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

strain. Then she drove, and the ball trickled 
down the hill into a patch of rough some 
five yards distant. 

"Tee-hee!" said Mrs. Fisher. 

Bradbury uttered a sharp cry. He was 
married to a golfing giggler. 

"What did I do then?" 

"God help you, woman," said Bradbury, 
"you jerked your head up till I wonder it 
didn't come off at the neck." 

It was at the fourth hole that further 
evidence was afforded the wretched man 
of how utterly a good, pure woman may 
change her nature when once she gets out 
on the links. Mrs. Fisher had played her 
eleventh, and, having walked the inter- 
vening three yards, was about to play her 
twelfth when behind them, grouped upon 
the tee, Bradbury perceived two of his fellow- 
members of th'5 club. Remorse and shame 
pierced him. 

"One minute, honey," he said, as his life's 
partner took a stranglehold on her mashie 
and was about to begin the movements. 
"We'd better let these men through." 

"What men?" 

"We're holding up a couple of fellows. 
I'll wave to them." 

"You will do nothing of the sort," cried 
Mrs. Fisher. "The idea!" 

"But, darling " 

"Why should they go through us? We 
started before them." 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 91 
But, pettie- 



"They shall not pass!" said Mrs. Fisher. 
And, raising her mashie, she dug a grim divot 
out of the shrinking turf. With bowed head, 
Bradbury followed her on the long, long trail. 

The sun was sinking as they came at last 
to journey's end. 

"How right Vosper is!" said Mrs. Fisher, 
nestling into the cushions of the automobile. 
"I feel ever so much better already." 

"Do you?" said Bradbury wanly. "Do 
you? " 

"We'll play again to-morrow afternoon," 
said his wife. 

Bradbury Fisher was a man of steel. He 
endured for a week. But on the last day 
of the week Mrs. Fisher insisted on taking as 
a companion on the round Alfred, her pet 
Airedale. In vain Bradbury spoke of the 
Green Committee and their prejudice against 
dogs on the links. Mrs. Fisher — and Brad- 
bury, as he heard the ghastly words, glanced 
involuntarily up at the summer sky, as if 
preparing to dodge the lightning-bolt which 
could scarcely fail to punish such blasphemy 
— said that the Green Committee were a lot 
of silly, fussy old men, and she had no 
patience with them. 

So Alfred came along — barking at Brad- 
bury as he endeavoured to concentrate on 
the smooth pronation of the wrists, pounding 
ahead to frolic round distant players who 



92 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

were shaping for delicate chip-shots, and 
getting a deep toe-hold on the turf of each 
successive green. Hell, felt Bradbury, must 
be something like this; and he wished that 
he had led a better life. 

But that retribution which waits on all, 
both small and great, who defy Green Com- 
mittees had marked Alfred down. Taking 
up a position just behind Mrs. Fisher as 
she began her down swing on the seventh, 
he received so shrewd a blow on his right 
foreleg that with a sharp yelp he broke into 
a gallop, raced through a foursome on the 
sixth green, and, charging across country, 
dived headlong into the water-hazard on 
the second ; where he remained until Brad- 
bury, who had been sent in pursuit, waded 
in and fished him out. 

Mrs. Fisher came panting up, full of concern. 

"What shall we do? The poor little fellow 
is quite lame. I know, you can carry him, 
Bradbury." 

Bradbury Fisher uttered a low, bleating 
sound. The water had had the worst effect 
on the animal. Even when dry, Alfred was 
always a dog of powerful scent. Wet, he 
had become definitely one of the six best 
smellers. His aroma had what the adver- 
tisement-writers call "strong memory value." 

"Carry him? To the car, do you mean?" 

" Of course not. Round the links. I don't 
want to miss a day's golf. You can put 
him down when you play your shots." 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 93 

For a long instant Bradbury hesitated. 
The words "Is zat so?" trembled on his 
lips. 

"Very well," he said, swallowing twice. 

That night, in his du Barri bedroom, 
Bradbury Fisher lay sleepless far into the 
dawn. A crisis, he realised, had come in his 
domestic affairs. Things, he saw clearly, 
could not go on like this. It was not merely 
the awful spiritual agony of playing these 
daily rounds of golf with his wife that was so 
hard to endure. The real trouble was that 
the spectacle of her on the links was destroy- 
ing his ideals, sapping away that love and 
respect which should have been as imperish- 
able as steel. 

To a good man his wife should be a god- 
dess, a being far above him to whom he can 
offer worship and reverence, a beacon-star 
guiding him over the tossing seas of life. 
She should be ever on a pedestal and in a 
shrine. And when she waggles for a minute 
and a half and then jerks her head and tops 
the ball, she ceases to be so. And Mrs. 
Fisher was not merely a head-lifter and a 
super- waggler ; she was a scoffer at Golf's 
most sacred things. She held up scratch- 
men. She omitted to replace divots. She 
spoke lightly of Green Committees. 

The sun was gilding Goldenville in its 
morning glory when Bradbury made up his 
mind. He would play with her no more. To 



94 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

do so would be fair neither to himself nor to 
her. At any moment, he felt, she might come 
out on the links in high heels or stop to 
powder her nose on the green while frenzied 
foursomes waited to play their approach- 
shots. And then love would turn to hate, and 
he and she would go through life estranged. 
Better to end it now, while he still retained 
some broken remains of the old esteem. 

He had got everything neatly arranged. 
He would plead business in the City and 
sneak off each day to play on another course 
five miles away. 

"Darling," he said at breakfast, "I'm 
afraid we shan't be able to have our game 
for a week or so. I shall have to be at the 
office early and late." 

"Oh, what a shame!" said Mrs. Fisher. 

"You will, no doubt, be able to get a 
game with the pro or somebody. You know 
how bitterly this disappoints me. I had come 
to look on our daily round as the bright 
spot of the day. But business is business." 

"I thought you had retired from business," 
said Mrs. Lora Smith Maplebury, with a 
sniff that cracked a coffee-cup. 

Bradbury Fisher looked at her coldly. She 
was a lean, pale-eyed woman with high 
cheek-bones, and for the hundredth time 
since she had come into his life he felt how 
intensely she needed a punch on the nose. 

"Not altogether," he said. "I still retain 
large interests in this and that, and I am at 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 95 

the moment occupied with affairs which I 
cannot mention without reveaUng secrets 

which might — which would — which are 

Well, anyway, I've got to go to the office." 

"Oh, quite," said Mrs. Maplebury. 

"What do you mean, quite?" demanded 
Bradbury. 

"I mean just what I say. Quite!" 

"Why quite?" 

"Why not quite? I suppose I can say 
'Quite!' can't I?" 

"Oh, quite," said Bradbury. 

He kissed his wife and left the room. He 
felt a little uneasy. There had been some- 
thing in the woman's manner which had 
caused him a vague foreboding. 

Had he been able to hear the conversation 
that followed his departure, he would have 
been still more uneasy. 

"Suspicious!" said Mrs. Maplebury. 

"What is?" asked Mrs. Fisher. 

"That man's behaviour." 
What do you mean?" 
Did you observe him closely while he 
was speaking? " 

*]No." 

"The tip of his nose wiggled. Always 
distrust a man who wiggles the tip of his 






nose." 



"I am sure Bradbury would not deceive 
you." 

So am I. But he might try to." 

I don't understand, mother. Do you 



D 



96 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

mean you think Bradbury is not going to 
the office? " 

"I am sure he is not.'* 

"You think ?" 

"I do." 

"You are suggesting ?"' 

i am. 

"You would imply ?"• 

"I would." 

A moan escaped Mrs. Fisher. 

"Oh, mother, mother!" she cried. "If I 
thought Bradbury was untrue to me, what 
I wouldn't do to that poor clam!" 

"I certainly think that the least you can 
do, as a good womanly woman, is to have a 
capable lawyer watching your interests." 

"But we can easily find out if he is at the 
office. We can ring them up on the 'phone 
and ask." 

"And be told that he is in conference. He 
will not have neglected to arrange for that." 

"Then what shall I do?" 

"Wait," said Mrs. Maplebury. "Wait 
and be watchful." 

The shades of night were falling when 
Bradbury returned to his home. He was 
fatigued but jubilant. He had played forty- 
five holes in the society of his own sex. He 
had kept his head down and his eye on the 
ball. He had sung negro spirituals in the 
locker-room. 

"I trust, Bradbury," said Mrs. Maplebury, 
"that you are not tired after your long day? " 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 97 

"A little," said Bradbury. "Nothing to 
signify." He turned radiantly to his wife. 

"Honey," he said, "you remember the 
trouble I was having with my iron? Well, 
to-day " 

He stopped aghast. Like every good 
husband it had always been his practice 
hitherto to bring his golfing troubles to his 
wife, and in many a cosy after-dinner chat 
he had confided to her the difficulty he was 
having in keeping his iron-shots straight. 
And he had only just stopped himself now 
from telling her that to-day he had been 
hitting 'em sweetly on the meat right down 
the middle. 

"Your iron? " 

"Er — ah — yes. I have large interests in 
Iron — as also in Steel, Jute, Woollen Fabrics, 
and Consolidated Peanuts. A gang has been 
trying to hammer down my stock. To-day 
I fixed them." 

"You did, did you?" said Mrs. Maple- 
bury. 

"I said I did," retorted Bradbury, 
defiantly. 

"So did I. I said you did, did you?" 

"What do you mean, did you?" 

"WeU, you did, didn't you?" 

"Yes, I did." 

"Exactly what I said. You did. Didn't 
you? " 

"Yes, I did." 

"Yes, you did!" said Mrs. Maplebury. 



98 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Once again Bradbury felt vaguely uneasy. 
There was nothing in the actual dialogue 
which had just taken place to cause him 
alarm — indeed, considered purely as dia- 
logue, it was bright and snappy and well 
calculated to make things gay about the 
home. But once more there had been a 
subtle something in his mother-in-law's 
manner which had jarred upon him. He 
mumbled and went off to dress for dinner. 

"Ha!" said Mrs. Maplebury, as the door 
closed. 

Such, then, was the position of affairs in 
the Fisher home. And now that I have 
arrived thus far in my story and have 
shown you this man systematically deceiv- 
ing the woman he had vowed — at one of 
the most exclusive altars in New York — 
to love and cherish, you — if you are the 
sort of husband I hope you are — must be 
saying to yourself: "But what of Bradbury 
Fisher's conscience?" Remorse, you feel, 
must long since have begun to gnaw at his 
vitals; and the thought suggests itself to 
you that surely by this time the pangs of 
self-reproach must have interfered seriously 
with his short game, even if not as yet 
sufficiently severe to affect his driving off 
the tee. 

You are overlooking the fact that Brad- 
bury Fisher's was the trained and educated 

conscience of a man who had passed a large 
r 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 99 

portion of his life in Wall Street ; and years 
of practice had enabled him to reduce the 
control of it to a science. Many a time in 
the past, when an active operator on the 
Street, he had done things to the Small 
Investor which would have caused raised 
eyebrows in the fo'c'sle of a pirate sloop — 
and done them without a blush. He was 
not the man, therefore, to suffer torment 
merely because he was slipping one over on 
the Little Woman. 

Occasionally he would wince a trifle at 
the thought of what would happen if she 
ever found out; but apart from that, I am 
doing no more than state the plain truth 
when I say that Bradbury Fisher did not 
care a whoop. 

Besides, at this point his golf suddenly 
underwent a remarkable improvement. He 
had always been a long driver, and quite 
abruptly he found that he was judging them 
nicely with the putter. Two weeks after he 
had started on his campaign of deception 
he amazed himself and all who witnessed 
the performance by cracking a hundred for 
the first time in his career. And every 
golfer knows that in the soul of the man who 
does that there is no room for remorse. 
Conscience may sting the player who is going 
round in a hundred and ten, but when it 
tries to make itself unpleasant to the man 
who is doing ninety-sevens and ninety- 
eights, it is simply wasting its time. 



100 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

I will do Bradbury Fisher justice. He did 
regret that he was not in a position to tell 
his wife all about that first ninety-nine of 
his. He would have liked to take her into 
a corner and show her with the aid of a poker 
and a lump of coal just how he had chipped 
up to the pin on the last hole and left him- 
self a simple two-foot putt. And the forlorn 
feeling of being unable to confide his tri- 
umphs to a sympathetic ear deepened a 
week later when, miraculously achieving 
ninety-six in the medal round, he qualified 
for the sixth sixteen in the annual invitation 
tournament of the club to which he had 
attached himself. 

"Shall I?" he mused, eyeing her wist- 
fully across the Queen Anne table in the 
Crystal Boudoir, to which they had retired 
to drink their after-dinner coffee. "Better 
not, better not," whispered Prudence in his 
ear. 

"Bradbury," said Mrs. Fisher. 

"Yes, darling?" 

"Have you been hard at work to-day?" 

"Yes, precious. Very, very hard at work." 

"Ho!" said Mrs. Maplebury. 

"What did you say?" said Bradbury. 

"I said ho!" 

"What do you mean, ho?" 

"Just ho. There is no harm, I imagine, 
in my saying ho, if I wish to." 

"Oh no," said Bradbury. "By no means. 
Not at all. Pray do so." 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER loi 

"Thank you," said Mrs. Maplebury. 
"Ho!" 

"You do have to slave at the office, don't 
you? " said Mrs. Fisher. 

"I do, indeed." 

"It must be a great strain." 

"A terrible strain. Yes, yes, a terrible 
strain." 

"Then you won't object to giving it up, 
will you? " 

Bradbury started. 

"Giving it up?" 

"Giving up going to the office. The fact 
is, dear," said Mrs. Fisher, "Vosper has 
complained." 

"What about?" 

"About you going to the office. He says 
he has never been in the employment of 
anyone engaged in commerce, and he doesn't 
like it. The Duke looked down on com- 
merce very much. So I'm afraid, darhng, 
you will have to give it up." 

Bradbury Fisher stared before him, a 
strange singing in his ears. The blow had 
been so sudden that he was stunned. 

His fingers picked feverishly at the arm 
of his chair. He had paled to the very lips. 
If the office was barred to him, on what 
pretext could he sneak away from home? 
And sneak he must, for to-morrow and the 
day after the various qualifying sixteens 
were to play the match-rounds for the cups ; 
and it was monstrous and impossible that 



102 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

he should not be there. He must be there. 
He had done a ninety-six, and the next best 
medal score in his sixteen was a hundred 
and one. For the first time in his life he 
had before him the prospect of winning a 
cup; and, highly though the poets have 
spoken of love, that emotion is not to be 
compared with the frenzy which grips a 
twenty-four handicap man who sees himself 
within reach of a cup. 

Blindly he tottered from the room and 
sought his study. He wanted to be alone. 
He had to think, think. 

The evening paper was lying on the table. 
Automatically he picked it up and ran his 
eye over the front page. And, as he did 
so, he uttered a sharp exclamation. 

He leaped from his chair and returned to 
the boudoir, carrying the paper. 

"Well, what do you know about this?" 
said Bradbury Fisher, in a hearty voice. 

"We know a great deal about a good many 
things," said Mrs. Maplebury. 

"What is it, Bradbury?" said Mrs 
Fisher. 

"Fm afraid I shall have to leave you for 
a couple of days. Great nuisance, but there 
it is. But, of course, I must be there." 

"Where?" 

"Ah, where?" said Mrs. Maplebury. 

"At Sing-Sing. I see in the paper that 
to-morrow and the day after they are 
inaugurating the new Osborne Stadium. All 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 103 

the men of my class will be attending, and 
I must go, too." 

"Must you really?" 

"I certainly must. Not to do so would 
be to show a lack of college spirit. The 
boys are playing Yale, and there is to be a 
big dinner afterwards. I shouldn't wonder 
if I had to make a speech. But don't worry, 
honey," he said, kissing his wife affection- 
ately. " I shall be back before you know I've 
gone." He turned sharply to Mrs. Maplebury. 
"I beg your pardon?" he said, stiffly. 

"I did not speak." 

"I thought you did." 

"I merely inhaled. I simply drew in air 
through my nostrils. If I am not at liberty 
to draw in air through my nostrils in your 
house, pray inform me." 

"I would prefer that you didn't," said 
Bradbury, between set teeth. 

"Then I would suffocate." 

"Yes," said Bradbury Fisher. 

Of all the tainted millionaires who, after 
years of plundering the widow and the 
orphan, have devoted the evening of their 
life to the game of golf, few can ever have 
been so boisterously exhilarated as was 
Bradbury Fisher when, two nights later, he 
returned to his home. His dreams had all 
come true. He had won his way to the foot 
of the rainbow. In other words, he was the 
possessor of a small pewter cup, value three 

02 



104 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

dollars, which he had won by beating a 
feeble old gentleman with one eye in the 
final match of the competition for the sixth 
sixteen at the Squashy Hollow Golf Club 
Invitation Tournament. 

He entered the house, radiant. 

"Tra-la!" sang Bradbury Fisher. "Tra-la! " 

"I beg your pardon, sir?" said Vosper, 
who had encountered him in the hall. 

"Eh? Oh, nothing. Just tra-la." 

"Very good, sir." 

Bradbury Fisher looked at Vosper. For 
the first time it seemed to sweep over him 
like a wave that Vosper was an uncommonly 
good fellow. The past was forgotten, and 
he beamed upon Vosper like the rising sun. 

"Vosper," he said, "what wages are you 
getting? " 

"I regret to say, sir," replied the butler, 
"that, at the moment, the precise amount 
of the salary of which I am in receipt has 
slipped my mind. I could refresh my memory 
by consulting my books, if you so desire it. 



sir." 
it 



'Never mind. Whatever it is, it's 
doubled." 

"I am obhged, sir. You will, no doubt, 
send me a written memo, to that effect?" 

"Twenty, if you like." 

"One will be ample, sir." 

Bradbury curveted past him through the 
baronial hall and into the Crystal Boudoir. 
His wife was there alone. 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 105 

"Mother has gone to bed," she said. 
"She has a bad headache." 

"You don't say!" said Bradbury, It was 
as if everything was conspiring to make 
this a day of days. "Well, it's great to be 
back in the old home." 

"Did you have a good time?'* 

"Capital." 

"You saw all your old friends? " 

"Every one of them." 

"Did you make a speech at the dinner?" 

"Did I! They rolled out of their seats and 
the waiters swept them up with dusters." 

"A very big dinner, I suppose?" 

"Enormous." 

"How was the football game?" 

"Best I've ever seen. We won. Number 
432,986 made a hundred-and-ten-yard run 
for a touchdown in the last five minutes." 

"Really?" 

"And that takes a bit of doing, with a 
ball and chain round your ankle, believe me ! " 

"Bradbury," said Mrs. Fisher, "where 
have you been these last two days? " 

Bradbury's heart missed a beat. His wife 
was looking exactly like her mother. It 
was the first time he had ever been able to 
beheve that she could be Mrs. Maplebury's 
daughter. 

"Been? Why, I'm teUing you." 

"Bradbury," said Mrs. Fisher, "just one 
word. Have you seen the paper this 
morning? " 



io6 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Why, no. What with all the excitement 
of meeting the boys and this and that " 

"Then you have not seen that the in- 
auguration of the new Stadium at Sing-Sing 
was postponed on account of an outbreak 
of mumps in the prison? " 

Bradbury gulped. 

"There was no dinner, no football game, 
no gathering of Old Grads — nothing! So — 
where have you been, Bradbury? " 

Bradbury gulped again. 

"You're sure you haven't got this 
wrong?" he said at length. 

"Quite." 

"I mean, sure it wasn't some other 
place?" 

"Quite." 

" sing-Sing? You got the name cor- 
rectly?" 

"Quite. Where, Bradbury, have you been 
these last two days?" 

"Well— er " 

Mrs. Fisher coughed dryly. 

"I merely ask out of curiosity. The facts 
will of course, come out in court." 

"In court!" 

"Naturally I propose to place this affair 
in the hands of my lawyer immediately." 

Bradbury started convulsively. 

"You mustn't!" 

"I certainly shall." 

A shudder shook Bradbury from head to 
foot. He felt worse than he had done when 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 107 

his opponent in the final had laid him a 
stymie on the last green, thereby squaring 
the match and taking it to the nineteenth 
hole. 

"I will tell you all," he muttered. 

"Well?" 

"Well— it was like this." 

"Yes?" 

"Er — like this. In fact, this way. 

"Proceed." 

Bradbury clenched his hands; and, as 
far as that could be managed, avoided her 
eye. 

"I've been playing golf," he said in a low, 
toneless voice. 

"Playing golf?" 

"Yes." Bradbury hesitated. "I don't 
mean it in an offensive spirit, and no doubt 
most men would have enjoyed themselves 
thoroughly, but I — well, I am curiously 
constituted, angel, and the fact is I simply 
couldn't stand playing with you any longer. 
The fault, I am sure, was mine, but — well, 
there it is. If I had played another round 
with you, my darling, I think that I should 
have begun running about in circles, biting 
my best friends. So I thought it all over, 
and, not wanting to hurt your feelings by 
telling you the truth, I stooped to what I 
might call a ruse. I said I was going to the 
office; and, instead of going to the office, 
I went off to Squashy Hollow and played 
there." 



io8 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Mrs. Fisher uttered a cry. 

"You were there to-day and yesterday?" 

In spite of his trying situation, the yeasty 
exhilaration which had been upon him when 
he entered the room returned to Bradbury. 

"Was II" he cried. "You bet your 
Russian boots I was! Only winning a cup, 
that's all!" 

"You won a cup?" 

"You bet your diamond tiara I won a 
cup. Say, listen," said Bradbury, diving 
for a priceless Boule table and wrenching a 
leg off it. "Do you know what happened 
in the semi-final? " He clasped his fingers 
over the table-leg in the overlapping grip. 
"I'm here, see, about fifteen feet off the 
green. The other fellow lying dead, and 
I'm playing the like. Best I could hope for 
was a half, you'll say, eh? Well, listen. I 
just walked up to that little white ball, and 
I gave it a little flick, and, believe me or 
believe me not, that little white ball never 
stopped running till it plunked into the 
hole." 

He stopped. He perceived that he had 
been introducing into the debate extraneous 
and irrelevant matter. 

"Honey," he said, fervently, "you mustn't 
get mad about this. Maybe, if we try 
again, it will be all right. Give me another 
chance. Let me come out and play a round 
to-morrow. I think perhaps your style of 
play is a thing that wants getting used 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER 109 

to. After all, I didn't like olives the first 
time I tried them. Or whisky. Or caviare, 
for that matter. Probably if " 

Mrs. Fisher shook her head. 

*'I shall never play again." 

"Oh, but, listen " 

She looked at him fondly, her eyes dim 
with happy tears. 

"I should have known you better, Brad- 
bury. I suspected you. How foolish I 
was." 

"There, there," said Bradbury. 

"It was mother's fault. She put ideas 
into my head." 

There was much that Bradbury would have 
liked to say about her mother, but he felt 
that this was not the time. 

"And you really forgive me for sneaking 
off and playing at Squashy Hollow?'* 

"Of course." 

"Then why not a little round to-morrow? " 

"No, Bradbury, I shall never play again. 
Vosper says I mustn't." 

"What!" 

"He saw me one morning on the links, 
and he came to me and told me — quite 
nicely and respectfully — that it must not 
occur again. He said with the utmost 
deference that I was making a spectacle of 
myself and that this nuisance must now 
cease. So I gave it up. But it's all right. 
Vosper thinks that gentle massage will cure 
my wheezing, so I'm having it every day. 



no THE HEART OF A GOOF 

and really I do think there's an improve- 
ment already." 

"Where is Vosper?'' said Bradbury, 
hoarsely. 

"You aren't going to be rude to him, 
Bradbury? He is so sensitive." 

But Bradbury Fisher had left the room. 

"You rang, sir?" said Vosper, entering 
the Byzantine smoking-room some few 
minutes later. 

"Yes," said Bradbury. "Vosper, I am a 
plain, rugged man and I do not know all 
that there is to be known about these things. 
So do not be offended if I ask you a 
question." 

"Not at all, sir." 

"Tell me, Vosper, did the Duke ever 
shake hands with you? " 

"Once only, sir — mistaking me in a dimly- 
lit hall for a visiting archbishop." 

"Would it be all right for me to shake 
hands with you now? " 

"If you wish it, sir, certainly." 

"I want to thank you, Vosper. Mrs. 
Fisher tells me that you have stopped her 
playing golf. I think that you have saved 
my reason, Vosper." 

"That is extremely gratifying, sir.'* 

"Your salary is trebled." 

"Thank you very much, sir. And, while we 

are talking, sir, if I might There is one 

other little matter I wished to speak of, sir." 



KEEPING IN WITH VOSPER iii 

"Shoot, Vosper.'* 

"It concerns Mrs. Maplebury, sir." 

"What about her?" 

"If I might say so, sir, she would scarcely 
have done for the Duke." 

A sudden wild thrill shot through Brad- 
bury. 

"You mean ?" he stammered. 

"I mean, sir, that Mrs. Maplebury must 
go. I make no criticism of Mrs. Maplebury, 
you will understand, sir. I merely say that 
she would decidedly not have done for the 
Duke." 

Bradbury drew in his breath sharply. 

"Vosper," he said, "the more I hear of 
that Duke of yours, the more I seem to like 
him. You really think he would have drawn 
the hne at Mrs. Maplebury?" 

"Very firmly, sir." 

"Splendid fellow! Splendid fellow I She 
shall go to-morrow, Vosper." 

"Thank you very much, sir."- 

"And, Vosper." 

"Sir?" 

"Your salary. It is quadrupled." 

"I am greatly obliged, sir." 

"Tra-la, Vosper!" 

"Tra-la, sir. Will that be all?" 

"That will be all. Tra-la!" 

"Tra-la, sir," said the butler. 



CHAPTER IV 

CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 

THE afternoon was warm and heavy. 
Butterflies loafed languidly in the 
sunshine, birds panted in the shady- 
recesses of the trees. 

The Oldest Member, snug in his favourite 
chair, had long since succumbed to the 
drowsy influence of the weather. His eyes 
were closed, his chin sunk upon his breast. 
The pipe which he had been smoking lay 
beside him on the turf, and ever and anon 
there proceeded from him a muffled snore. 

Suddenly the stillness was broken. There 
was a sharp, cracking sound as of splitting 
wood. The Oldest Member sat up, blinking. 
As soon as his eyes had become accustomed 
to the glare, he perceived that a foursome 
had holed out on the ninth and was disin- 
tegrating. Two of the players were moving 
with quick, purposeful steps in the direction 
of the side door which gave entrance to the 
bar; a third was making for the road that 
led to the village, bearing himself as one in 

112 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 113 

profound dejection; the fourth came on 
to the terrace. 

"Finished?" said the Oldest Member. 

The other stopped, wiping a heated brow. 
He lowered himself into the adjoining chair 
and stretched his legs out. 

"Yes. We started at t'^- lenth. Golly, 
Fm tired. No joke playinr As weather." 

"How did you come ou. ' 

"We won on the last green. Jimmy 
Fothergill and I were playing i/e vicar and 
Rupert Blake." 

"What was that sharp, cracking sound I 
heard?" asked the Oldest Member. 

"That was the vicar smashing his putter. 
Poor old chap, he had rotten luck all the 
way round, and it didn't seem to make it 
any better for him that he wasn't able to 
relieve his feelings in the ordinary way." 

"I suspected some such thing," said the 
Oldest Member, "from the look of his back 
as he was leaving the green. His walk was 
the walk of an overwrought soul." 

His companion did not reply. He was 
breathing deeply and regularly. 

"It is a moot question," proceeded the 
Oldest Member, thoughtfully, "whether the 
clerg}^ considering their peculiar position, 
should not be more liberally handicapped 
at golf than the laymen with whom they 
compete. I have made a close study of 
the game since the days of the feather ball, 
and I am firmly convinced that to refrain 



114 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

entirely from oaths during a round is almost 
equivalent to giving away three bisques. 
There are certain occasions when an oath 
seems to be so imperatively demanded that 
the strain of keeping it in must inevitably 
affect the ganglions or nerve-centres in such 
a manner as to diminish the steadiness of 
the swing." 

The man beside him slipped lower down 
in his chair. His mouth had opened slightly. 

"I am reminded in this connection," said 
the Oldest Member, "of the story of young 
Chester Meredith, a friend of mine whom 
you have not, I think, met. He moved 
from this neighbourhood shortly before you 
came. There was a case where a man's 
whole happiness was very nearly wrecked 
purely because he tried to curb his instincts 
and thwart nature in this very respect. 
Perhaps you would care to hear the story? " 

A snore proceeded from the next chair. 

"Very well, then," said the Oldest Member, 
"I will relate it." 

Chester Meredith (said the Oldest Member) 
was one of the nicest young fellows of my 
acquaintance. We had been friends ever 
since he had come to live here as a small boy, 
and I had watched him with a fatherly eye 
through all the more important crises of a 
young man's life. It was I who taught him 
to drive, and when he had all that trouble 
in his twenty-first year with shanking his 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 115 

short approaches, it was to me that he came 
for sympathy and advice. It was an odd 
coincidence, therefore, that I should have 
been present when he fell in love. 

I was smoking my evening cigar out here 
and watching the last couples finishing their 
rounds, when Chester came out of the club- 
house and sat by me. I could see that the 
boy was perturbed about something, and 
wondered why, for I knew that he had won 
his match. 

"What," I inquired, "is on your mind?" 

"Oh, nothing," said Chester. "I was 
only thinking that there are some human 
misfits who ought not to be allowed on any 
decent links." 

"You mean ?" 

"The Wrecking Crew,'' said Chester, 
bitterly. "They held us up all the way 
round, confound them. Wouldn't let us 
through. What can you do with people 
who don't know enough of the etiquette 
of the game to understand that a single has 
right of way over a four-ball foursome? 
We had to loaf about for hours on end while 
they scratched at the turf like a lot of crimson 
hens. Eventually all four of them lost their 
balls simultaneously at the eleventh and we 
managed to get by. I hope they choke." 

I was not altogether surprised at his 
warmth. The Wrecking Crew consisted of 
four retired business men who had taken up 
the noble game late in life because their 



ii6 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

doctors had ordered them air and exercise. 
Every club, I suppose, has a cross of this 
kind to bear, and it was not often that our 
members rebelled; but there was undoubt- 
edly something particularly irritating in the 
methods of the Wrecking Crew. They tried 
so hard that it seemed almost inconceivable 
that they should be so slow. 

"They are all respectable men," I said, 
"and were, I believe, highly thought of in 
their respective businesses. But on the links 
I admit that they are a trial." 

"They are the direct lineal descendants 
of the Gadarene swine," said Chester firmly. 
"Every time they come out I expect to 
see them rush down the hill from the first 
tee and hurl themselves into the lake at the 
second. Of all the " 

"Hush!" I said. 

Out of the corner of my eye I had seen 
a girl approaching, and I was afraid lest 
Chester in his annoyance might use strong 
language. For he was one of those golfers 
who are apt to express themselves in moments 
of emotion with a good deal of generous 
warmth. 

"Eh?" said Chester. 

I jerked my head, and he looked round. 
And, as he did so, there came into his face 
an expression which I had seen there only 
once before, on the occasion when he won 
the President's Cup on the last green by 
holing a thirty-yard chip with his mashie. 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 117 

It was a look of ecstasy and awe. His 
mouth was open, his eyebrows raised, and 
he was breathing heavily through his nose. 

"Golly!" I heard him mutter. 

The girl passed by. I could not blame 
Chester for staring at her. She was a beau- 
tiful young thing, with a lissom figure and 
a perfect face. Her hair was a deep chest- 
nut, her eyes blue, her nose small and laid 
back with about as much loft as a light 
iron. She disappeared, and Chester, after 
nearly dislocating his neck trying to see her 
round the corner of the club-house, emitted 
a deep, explosive sigh. 

"Who is she?" he whispered. 

I could tell him that. In one way and 
another I get to know most things around 
this locality. 

" She is a Miss Blakeney. Felicia Blakeney. 
She has come to stay for a month with the 
Waterfields. I understand she was at school 
with Jane Waterfield. She is twenty-three, 
has a dog named Joseph, dances well, and 
dislikes parsnips. Her father is a distin- 
guished writer on sociological subjects; her 
mother is Wilmot Royce, the well-known 
novehst, whose last work. Sewers of the 
Soul, was, you may recall, jerked before a 
tribunal by the Purity League. She has 
a brother, Crispin Blakeney, an eminent 
young reviewer and essayist, who is now in 
India studying local conditions with a view 
to a series of lectures. She only arrived here 



ii8 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

yesterday, so this is all I have been able 
to find out about her as yet." 

Chester's mouth was still open when I 
began speaking. By the time I had finished 
it was open still wider. The ecstatic look in 
his eyes had changed to one of dull despair. 

"My God!" he muttered. "If her family 
is like that, what chance is there for a rough- 
neck like me?" 

"You admire her?" 

"She is the alligator's Adam's apple," 
said Chester, simply. 

I patted his shoulder. 

" Have courage, my boy," I said. "Always 
remember that the love of a good man, to 
whom the pro can give only a couple of 
strokes in eighteen holes is not to be 
despised." 

" Yes, that's all very well. But this girl 
is probably one solid mass of brain. She will 
look on me as an uneducated wart-hog." 

"Well, I will introduce you, and we will 
see. She looked a nice girl." 

"You're a great describer, aren't you?" 
said Chester. "A wonderful flow of language 
you've got, I don't think! Nice girl! Why, 
she's the only girl in the world. She's a 
pearl among women. She's the most mar- 
vellous, astounding, beautiful, heavenly 
thing that ever drew perfumed breath." 
He paused, as if his train of thought had 
been interrupted by an idea. "Did you say 
that her brother's name was Crispin?" 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 119 

"I did. Why?" 

Chester gave vent to a few manly oaths. 

"Doesn't that just show you how things 
go in this rotten world?" 

"What do you mean?" 

"I was at school with him." 

"Surely that should form a solid basis 
for friendship?" 

"Should it? Should it, by gad? Well, 
let me tell you that I probably kicked that 
blighted worm Crispin Blakeney a matter 
of seven hundred and forty-six times in the 
few years I knew him. He was the world's 
worst. He could have walked straight into 
the Wrecking Crew and no questions asked. 
Wouldn't it jar you? I have the luck to 
know her brother, and it turns out that we 
couldn't stand the sight of each other." 

"Well, there is no need to tell her that," 

"Do you mean ?" He gazed at me 

wildly. "Do you mean I might pretend 
we were pals?" 

"Why not? Seeing that he is in India, 
he can hardly contradict you." 

"My gosh!" He mused for a moment. 
I could see that the idea was beginning to 
sink in. It was always thus with Chester. 
You had to give him time. "By Jove, it 
mightn't be a bad scheme at that. I mean, 
it would start me off with a rush, like being 
one up on bogey in the first two. And there's 
nothing like a good start. By gad, I'll 
do it." 



120 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"I should/' 

"Reminiscences of the dear old days 
when we were lads together, and all that 
sort of thing." 

"Precisely." 

"It isn't going to be easy, mind you," 
said Chester, meditatively. "I'll do it be- 
cause I love her, but nothing else in this 
world would make me say a civil word about 
the blister. Well, then, that's settled. Get 
on with the introduction stuff, will you? 
I'm in a hurry." 

One of the privileges of age is that it 
enables a man to thrust his society on a 
beautiful girl without causing her to draw 
herself up and say "Sir!" It was not 
difficult for me to make the acquaintance of 
Miss Blakeney, and, this done, my first act 
was to unleash Chester on her. 

"Chester," I said, summoning him as he 
loafed with an overdone carelessness on 
the horizon, one leg almost inextricably 
entwined about the other, "I want you to 
meet Miss Blakeney. Miss Blakeney, this 
is my young friend Chester Meredith. He 
was at school with your brother Crispin. 
You were great friends, were you not?" 

"Bosom," said Chester, after a pause. 

"Oh, really?" said the girl. There was 
a pause. "He is in India now." 

"Yes," said Chester. t 

There was another pause. 

"Great chap," said Chester, gruffly. 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 121 

"Crispin is very popular," said the girl, 
"with some people." 

"Always been my best pal," said Chester. 

"Yes?" 

I was not altogether satisfied with the 
way matters were developing. The girl 
seemed cold and imfriendly, and I was afraid 
that this WLS due to Chester's repellent 
manner. Shyiiess, especially when compli- 
cated by love ac first sight, is apt to have 
strange effects on i. man, and the way it had 
taken Chester was to make him abnormally 
stiff and dignified. One of the most charm- 
ing things about him, as a rule, was his 
delightful boyish smile. Shyness had caused 
him to iron this out of his countenance till 
no trace of it remained. Not only did he 
not smile, he looked like a man who never 
had smiled and never would. His mouth 
was a thin, rigid line. His back was stiff 
with what appeared to be contemptuous 
aversion. He looked down his nose at Miss 
Blakeney as if she were less than the dust 
beneath his chariot-wheels. 

I thought the best thing to do was to leave 
them alone together to get acquainted. 
Perhaps, I thought, it was my presence that 
was cramping Chester's style. I excused 
myself and receded. 

It was some days before I saw Chester 
again. He came round to my cottage 
one night after dinner and sank into a 






122 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

chair, where he remained silent for several 
minutes. 

"Well?" I said at last. 
'Eh?" said Chester, starting violently. 
Have you been seeing anything of Miss 
Blakeney lately?" 

"You bet I have." 

"And how do you feel about her on further 
acquaintance?" 

"Eh?" said Chester, absently. 

"Do you still love her?" 

Chester came out of his trance. 

"Love her?" he cried, his voice vibrating 
with emotion. "Of course I love her. Who 
wouldn't love her? I'd be a silly chump 
not loving her. Do you know," the boy 
went on, a look in his eyes like that of some 
young knight seeing the Holy Grail in a 
vision, "do you know, she is the only woman 
I ever met who didn't overswing. Just 
a nice, crisp, snappy half-slosh, with a 
good full follow-through. And another thing. 
You'll hardly believe me, but she waggles 
almost as httle as George Duncan. You 
know how women waggle as a rule, fiddling 
about for a minute and a half like kittens 
playing with a ball of wool. Well, she 
just makes one firm pass with the club 
and then hing! There is none like her, 



none." 



Then you have been playing golf with 
her?" 

"Nearly every day." 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 123 

"How is your game?" 

"Rather spotty. I seem to be mistiming 
them." 

I was concerned. 

"I do hope, my dear boy," I said, earnestly, 
"that you are taking care to control your 
feelings when out on the links with Miss 
Blakeney. You know what you are like. 
I trust you have not been using the sort 
of language you generally employ on occa- 
sions when you are not timing them right?" 

"Me?" said Chester, horrified. "Who, 
me? You don't imagine for a moment 
that I would dream of saying a thing that 
would bring a blush to her dear cheek, do 
you? Why, a bishop could have gone round 
with me and learned nothing new." 

I was relieved. 

"How do you find you manage the 
dialogue these days?" I asked. "When I 
introduced you, you behaved — you will for- 
give an old friend for criticising — you behaved 
a little like a stuffed frog with laryngitis. 
Have things got easier in that respect?" 

"Oh yes. I'm quite the prattler now. 
I talk about her brother mostly. I put in the 
greater part of my time boosting the tick. 
It seems to be coming easier. Will-power, 
I suppose. And then, of course, I talk a 
good deal about her mother's novels." 

"Have you read them?" 

"Every damned one of them — for her 
sake. Arid if there's a greater proof of love 



124 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

than that, show me! My gosh, what muck 
that woman writes! That reminds me, I've 
got to send to the bookshop for her latest — 
out yesterday. It's called The Stench of Life. 
A sequel, I understand, to Grey Mildew. 

"Brave lad," I said, pressing his hand. 
"Brave, devoted lad!" 

"Oh, I'd do more than that for her." 
He smoked for awhile in silence. "By the 
way, I'm going to propose to her to-morrow." 

"Already?" 

"Can't put it off a minute longer. It's 
been as much as I could manage, bottling 
it up till now. Where do you think would 
be the best place? I mean, it's not the 
sort of thing you can do while you're walking 
down the street or having a cup of tea. 
I thought of asking her to have a round with 
me and taking a stab at it on the links." 

"You could not do better. The links — 
Nature's cathedral." 

"Right-o, then! I'll let you know how 
I come out." 

"I wish you luck, my boy," I said. 

And what of Felicia, meanwhile? She 
was, alas, far from returning the devotion 
which scorched Chester's vital organs. He 
seemed to her precisely the sort of man she 
most disliked. From childhood up Felicia 
Blakeney had lived in an atmosphere of 
highbrowism, and the type of husband she 
had always seen in her daydreams was the 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 125 

man who was simple and straightforward and 
earthy and did not know whether Artbashie- 
keff was a suburb of Moscow or a new kind 
of Russian drink. A man hke Chester, who 
on his own statement would rather read one 
of her mother's novels than eat, revolted her. 
And his warm affection for her brother 
Crispin set the seal on her distaste. 

Felicia was a dutiful child, and she loved 
her parents. It took a bit of doing, but she 
did it. But at her brother Crispin she drew 
the line. He wouldn't do, and his friends 
were worse than he was. They were high- 
voiced, supercilious, pince-nezed young men 
who talked patronisingly of Life and Art, 
and Chester's unblushing confession that he 
was one of them had put him ten down and 
nine to play right away. 

You may wonder why the boy's undeniable 
skill on the links had no power to soften 
the girl. The unfortunate fact was that aU 
the good effects of his prowess were neutral- 
ised by his behaviour while playing. All her 
life she had treated golf with a proper rever- 
ence and awe, and in Chester's attitude 
towards the game she seemed to detect 
a horrible shallowness. The fact is, Chester, 
in his efforts to keep himself from using 
strong language, had found a sort of relief 
in a girlish giggle, and it made her shudder 
every time she heard it. 

His deportment, therefore, in the space of 
time leading up to the proposal could not 



126 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

have been more injurious to his cause. 
They started out quite happily, Chester 
doing a nice two-hundred-yarder off the 
first tee, which for a moment awoke the girl's 
respect. But at the fourth, after a lovely 
brassie-shot, he found his ball deeply em- 
bedded in the print of a woman's high heel. 
It was just one of those rubs of the green 
which normally would have caused him to 
ease his bosom with a flood of sturdy protest, 
but now he was on his guard. 

"Tee-hee!" simpered Chester, reaching for 
his niblick. "Too bad, too bad!" and the 
girl shuddered to the depths of her soul. 

Having holed out, he proceeded to enliven 
the walk to the next tee with a few remarks 
on her mother's literary style, and it was 
while they were walking after their drives 
that he proposed. 

His proposal, considering the circum- 
stances, could hardly have been less happily 
worded. Little knowing that he was rush- 
ing upon his doom, Chester stressed the 
Crispin note. He gave Felicia the impres- 
sion that he was suggesting this marriage 
more for Crispin's sake than anything else. 
He conveyed the idea that he thought how 
nice it would be for brother Crispin to have 
his old chum in the family. He drew a 
picture of their little home, with Crispin for 
ever popping in and out like a rabbit. It 
is not to be wondered at that, when at 
length he had finished and she had time to 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 127 

speak, the horrified girl turned him down 
with a thud. 

It is at moments such as these that a man 
reaps the reward of a good upbringing. 

In similar circumstances those who have 
not had the benefit of a sound training in 
golf are too apt to go wrong. Goaded by the 
sudden anguish, they take to drink, plunge 
into dissipation, and write vers libre. Chester 
was mercifully saved from this. I saw him 
the day after he had been handed the mitten, 
and was struck by the look of grim deter- 
mination in his face. Deeply wounded 
though he was, I could see that he was the 
master of his fate and the captain of his soul. 

"I am sorry, my boy," I said, sympatheti- 
cally, when he had told me the painful news. 

"It can't be helped," he replied, bravely. 

"Her decision was final?" 

"Quite." 

"You do not contemplate having another 
pop at her?" 

"No good. I know when I'm licked." 

I patted him on the shoulder and said 
the only thing it seemed possible to say. 

"After all, there is always golf." 

He nodded. 

"Yes. My game needs a lot of tuning 
up. Now is the time to do it. From now 
on I go at this pastime seriously. I make 
it my life-work. Who knows?" he mur- 
mured, with a sudden gleam in his eyes. 
"The Amateur Championship " 



128 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"The Open!" I cried, falling gladly into 
his mood. 

"The American Amateur," said Chester, 
flushing. 

"The American Open," I chorused. 

"No one has ever copped all four." 

"No one." 

"Watch me!" said Chester Meredith, 
simply. 

It was about two weeks after this that I 
happened to look in on Chester at his house 
one morning. I found him about to start 
for the links. As he had foreshadowed 
in the conversation which I have just related, 
he now spent most of the daylight hours on 
the course. In these two weeks he had 
gone about his task of achieving perfection 
with a furious energy which made him the 
talk of the club. Always one of the best 
players in the place, he had developed an 
astounding brilliance. Men who had played 
him level were now obliged to receive two 
and even three strokes. The pro. himself, 
conceding one, had only succeeded in halving 
their match. The struggle for the Presi- 
dent's Cup came round once more, and 
Chester won it for the second time with 
ridiculous ease. 

When I arrived, he was practising chip- 
shots in his sitting-room. I noticed that he 
seemed to be labouring under some strong 
emotion, and his first words gave me the clue. 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 129 

"She's going away to-morrow," he said, 
abruptly, lofting a ball over the whatnot on 
to the Chesterfield. 

I was not sure whether I was sorry or 
reHeved. Her absence would leave a terrible 
blank, of course, but it might be that it 
would help him to get over his infatuation. 

"Ah!" I said, non-committally. 

Chester addressed his ball with a well- 
assumed phlegm, but I could see by the way 
his ears wiggled that he was feeling deeply. 
I was not surprised when he topped his shot 
into the coal-scuttle. 

"She has promised to play a last round 
with me this morning," he said. 

Again I was doubtful what view to take. 
It was a pretty, poetic idea, not unlike 
Browning's "Last Ride Together," but I 
was not sure if it was altogether wise. How- 
ever, it was none of my business, so I merely 
patted him on the shoulder and he gathered 
up his clubs and went off. 

Owing to motives of delicacy I had not 
offered to accompany him on his round, 
and it was not till later that I learned the 
actual details of what occurred. At the start, 
it seems, the spiritual anguish which he was 
suffering had a depressing effect on his game. 
He hooked his drive off the first tee and was 
only enabled to get a five by means of a 
strong nibhck shot out of the rough. At 
the second, the lake hole, he lost a ball in 



130 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

the water and got another five. It was only 
at the third that he began to pull himself 
together. 

The test of a great golfer is his ability 
to recover from a bad start. Chester had 
this quality to a pre-eminent degree. A 
lesser man, conscious of being three over 
bogey for the first two holes, might have 
looked on his round as ruined. To Chester 
it simply meant that he had to get a couple 
of "birdies" right speedily, and he set 
about it at once. Always a long driver, he 
excelled himself at the third. It is, as you 
know, an uphill hole all the way, but his 
drive could not have come far short of two 
hundred and fifty yards. A brassie-shot of 
equal strength and unerring direction put him 
on the edge of the green, and he holed out 
with a long putt two under bogey. He 
had hoped for a "birdie " and he had achieved 
an "eagle." 

I think that this splendid feat must have 
softened Felicia's heart, had it not been for 
the fact that misery had by this time entirely 
robbed Chester of the ability to smile. 
Instead, therefore, of behaving in the whole- 
some, natural way of men who get threes 
at bogey five holes, he preserved a drawn, 
impassive countenance; and as she watched 
him tee up her ball, stiff, correct, polite, but 
to all outward appearance absolutely in- 
human, the girl found herself stifling that 
thrill of what for a moment had been almost 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 131 

adoration. It was, she felt, exactly how her 
brother Crispin would have comported him- 
self if he had done a hole in two under bogey. 

And yet she could not altogether check 
a wistful sigh when, after a couple of fours 
at the next two holes, he picked up another 
stroke on the sixth and with an inspired 
spoon-shot brought his medal-score down 
to one better than bogey by getting a two 
at the hundred-and-seventy-yard seventh. 
But the brief spasm of tenderness passed, 
and when he finished the first nine with two 
more fours she refrained from anything 
warmer than a mere word of stereotyped 
congratulation. 

"One under bogey for the first nine," she 
said. "Splendid!" 

"One under bogey!" said Chester, 
woodenly. 

"Out in thirty-four. WTiat is the record 
for the course?" 

Chester started. So great had been his 
pre-occupation that he had not given a 
thought to the course record. He sud- 
denly realised now that the pro., who had 
done the lowest medal-score to date — the 
other course record was held by Peter Willard 
with a hundred and sixty-one, achieved in 
his first season — had gone out in only one 
better than his own figures that day. 

"Sixty-eight," he said. 

"What a pity you lost those strokes at 
the beginning!" 



132 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Yes," said Chester. 

He spoke absently — and, as it seemed to 
her, primly and without enthusiasm — for the 
flaming idea of having a go at the course 
record had only just occurred to him. Once 
before he had done the first nine in thirty- 
four, but on that occasion he had not felt 
that curious feehng of irresistible force 
which comes to a golfer at the very top of his 
form. Then he had been aware all the time 
that he had been putting chancily. They 
had gone in, yes, but he had uttered a prayer 
per putt. To-day he was superior to any 
weak doubtings. When he tapped the ball 
on the green, he knew it was going to sink. 
The course record? Why not? What a last 
offering to lay at her feet! She would go 
away, out of his life for ever; she would 
marry some other bird; but the memory 
of that supreme round would remain with 
her as long as she breathed. When he won 
the Open and Amateur for the second — the 
third — the fourth time, she would say to 
herself, "I was with him when he dented the 
record for his home course!" And he had 
only to pick up a couple of strokes on the last 
nine, to do threes at holes where he was wont 
to be satisfied with fours. Yes, by Vardon, 
he would take a whirl at it. 

You, who are acquainted with these links, 
will no doubt say that the task which Chester 
Meredith had sketched out for himself — 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 133 

cutting two strokes off thirty-five for the 
second nine — was one at which Humanity 
might well shudder. The pro. himself, who 
had finished sixth in the last Open Champion- 
ship, had never done better than a thirty- 
five, playing perfect golf and being one under 
par. But such was Chester's mood that, 
as he teed up on the tenth, he did not even 
consider the possibility of failure. Every 
muscle in his body was working in perfect 
co-ordination with its fellows, his wrists 
felt as if they were made of tempered steel, 
and his eyes had just that hawk-like quality 
which enables a man to judge his short 
approaches to the inch. He swung forcefully, 
and the ball sailed so close to the direction- 
post that for a moment it seemed as if it had 
hit it. 

"Oo!" cried Felicia. 

Chester did not speak. He was following 
the flight of the ball. It sailed over the 
brow of the hill, and with his knowledge 
of the course he could tell almost the exact 
patch of turf on which it must have come 
to rest. An iron would do the business 
from there, and a single putt would give 
him the first of the "birdies" he required. 
Two minutes later he had holed out a six- 
foot putt for a three. 

"Oo!" said Felicia again. 

Chester walked to the eleventh tee m silence. 

"No, never mind," she said, as he stooped 
to put her ball on the sand. "I don't think 



134 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

I'll play any more. I'd much rather just 
watch you." 

"Oh, that you could watch me through 
life!" said Chester, but he said it to him- 
self. His actual words were "Very well!" 
and he spoke them with a stiff coldness 
which chilled the girl. 

The eleventh is one of the trickiest holes 
on the course, as no doubt you have found 
out for yourself. It looks absurdly simple, 
but that little patch of wood on the right 
that seems so harmless is placed just in the 
deadliest position to catch even the most 
slightly sliced drive. Chester's lacked the 
austere precision of his last. A hundred 
yards from the tee it swerved almost im- 
perceptibly, and, striking a branch, feU 
in the tangled undergrowth. It took him 
two strokes to hack it out and put it on the 
green, and then his long putt, after quivering 
on the edge of the hole, stayed there. For 
a swift instant red-hot words rose to his lips, 
but he caught them just as they were coming 
out and crushed them back. He looked at 
his ball and he looked at the hole. 

"Tut!" said Chester. 

Felicia uttered a deep sigh. The niblick- 
shot out of the rough had impressed her 
profoundly. If only, she felt, this superb 
golfer had been more human! If only 
she were able to be constantly in this 
man's society, to see exactly what it was 
that he did with his left wrist that gave that 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 135 

terrific snap to his drives, she might acquire 
the knack herself one of these da^^s. For 
she was a clear-thinking, honest girl, and 
thoroughly realised that she did not get the 
distance she ought to with her wood. With 
a husband like Chester beside her to stimu- 
late and advise, of what might she not be 
capable? If she got wrong in her stance, 
he could put her right with a word. If she 
had a bout of slicing, how quickly he would 
tell her what caused it. And she knew that 
she had only to speak the word to wipe out 
the effects of her refusal, to bring him to 
her side for ever. 

But could a girl pay such a price? When 
he had got that "eagle" on the third, he 
had looked bored. When he had missed 
this last putt, he had not seemed to care. 
"Tut!" What a word to use at such a 
moment! No, she felt sadly, it could not 
be done. To marry Chester Meredith, she 
told herself, would be like marrying a com- 
posite of Soames Forsyte, Sir Willoughby 
Patterne, and all her brother Crispin's friends. 
She sighed and was silent. 

Chester, standing on the twelfth tee, re- 
viewed the situation swiftly, like a general 
before a battle. There were seven holes 
to play, and he had to do these in two better 
than bogey. The one that faced him now 
offered few opportunities. It was a long, 
slogging, dog-leg hole, and even Ray and 

£2 



136 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Taylor, when they had played their exhibition 
game on the course, had taken fives. No 
opening there. 

The thirteenth — up a steep hill with a 
long iron-shot for one's second and a blind 
green fringed with bunkers? Scarcely prac- 
ticable to hope for better than a four. The 
fourteenth — into the valley with the ground 
sloping sharply down to the ravine? He 
had once done it in three, but it had been 
a fluke. No; on these three holes he 
must be content to play for a steady par 
and trust to picking up a stroke on the 
fifteenth. 

The fifteenth, straightforward up to the 
plateau green with its circle of bunkers, 
presents few difficulties to the finished golfer 
who is on his game. A bunker meant 
nothing to Chester in his present conquering 
vein. His mashie-shot second soared almost 
contemptuously over the chasm and rolled 
to within a foot of the pin. He came to 
the sixteenth with the clear-cut problem 
before him of snipping two strokes off par 
on the last three holes. 

To the unthinking man, not acquainted 
with the lay-out of our links, this would 
no doubt appear a tremendous feat. But the 
fact is, the Green Committee, with perhaps 
an unduly sentimental bias towards the happy 
ending, have arranged a comparatively easy 
finish to the course. The sixteenth is a 
perfectly plain hole with broad fairway 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 137 

and a down-hill run; the seventeenth, a 
one-shot affair with no difficulties for the 
man who keeps them straight; and the 
eighteenth, though its up-hill run makes it 
deceptive to the stranger and leads the 
unwary to take a mashie instead of a light 
iron for his second, has no real venom in it. 
Even Peter Willard has occasionally come 
home in a canter with a six, five, and seven, 
conceding himself only two eight-foot putts. 
It is, I think, this mild conclusion to a tough 
course that makes the refreshment-room of 
our club so noticeable for its sea of happy 
faces. The bar every day is crowded with 
rejoicing men who, forgetting the agonies of 
the first fifteen, are babbling of what they 
did on the last three. The seventeenth, 
with its possibilities of holing out a topped 
second, is particularly soothing. 

Chester Meredith was not the man to 
top his second on any hole, so this supreme 
bliss did not come his way; but he laid a 
beautiful mashie-shot dead and got a three; 
and when with his iron he put his first well 
on the green at the seventeenth and holed 
out for a two, life, for all his broken heart, 
seemed pretty tolerable. He now had the 
situation well in hand. He had only to 
play his usual game to get a four on the last 
and lower the course record by one stroke. 

It was at this supreme moment of his hfe 
that he ran into the Wrecking Crew. 



138 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

You doubtless find it difficult to under- 
stand how it came about that if the Wreck- 
ing Crew were on the course at all he had 
not run into them long before. The ex- 
planation is that, with a regard for the 
etiquette of the game unusual in these 
miserable men, they had for once obeyed 
the law that enacts that foursomes shall 
start at the tenth. They had begun their 
dark work on the second nine, accordingly, 
at almost the exact moment when Chester 
Meredith was driving off at the first, and 
this had enabled them to keep ahead until 
now. When Chester came to the eighteenth 
tee, they were just leaving it, moving up 
the fairway with their caddies in mass 
formation and looking to his exasperated 
eye like one of those great race-migrations 
of the Middle Ages. Wherever Chester 
looked he seemed to see human, so to speak, 
figures. One was doddering about in the 
long grass fifty yards from the tee, others 
debouched to left and right. The course 
was crawling with them. 

Chester sat down on the bench with a 
weary sigh. He knew these men. Self- 
centred, remorseless, deaf to all the prompt- 
ings of their better nature, they never let 
anyone through. There was nothing to do 
but wait. 

The Wrecking Crew scratched on. The 
man near the tee rolled his ball ten yards, 
then twenty, then thirty — he was improving. 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 139 

Ere long he would be out of range. Chester 
rose and swished his driver. 

But the end was not yet. The individual 
operating in the rough on the left had been 
advancing in slow stages, and now, finding 
his ball teed up on a tuft of grass, he opened 
his shoulders and let himself go. There 
was a loud report, and the ball, hitting a 
tree squarely, bounded back almost to the 
tee, and all the weary work was to do again. 
By the time Chester was able to drive, he 
was reduced by impatience, and the neces- 
sity of refraining from commenting on the 
state of affairs as he would have wished 
to comment, to a frame of mind in which 
no man could have kept himself from press- 
ing. He pressed, and topped. The ball 
skidded over the turf for a meagre hundred 
yards. 

"D-d-d-dear me!" said Chester. 

The next moment he uttered a bitter laugh. 
Too late ai miracle had happened. One of 
the foul figures in front was waving its club. 
Other ghastly creatures were withdrawing 
to the side of the fairway. Now, when the 
harm had been done, these outcasts were 
signalling to him to go through. The hollow 
mockery of the thing swept over Chester 
like a wave. What was the use of going 
through now? He was a good three hundred 
yards from the green, and he needed bogey 
at this hole to break the record. Almost 
absently he drew his brassie from his bag; 



140 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

then, as the full sense of his wrongs bit into 
his soul, he swung viciously. 

Golf is a strange game. Chester had 
pressed on the tee and foozled. He pressed 
now, and achieved the most perfect shot of 
his life. The ball shot from its place as if 
a charge of powerful explosive were behind 
it. Never deviating from a straight line, 
never more than six feet from the ground, 
it sailed up the hill, crossed the bunker, 
eluded the mounds beyond, struck the turf, 
rolled, and stopped fifty feet from the hole. 
It was a brassie-shot of a lifetime, and 
shrill senile yippings of excitement and 
congratulation floated down from the Wreck- 
ing Crew. For, degraded though they were, 
these men were not wholly devoid of human 
instincts. 

Chester drew a deep breath. His ordeal 
was over. That third shot, which would 
lay the ball right up to the pin, was precisely 
the sort of thing he did best. Almost from 
boyhood he had been a wizard at the short 
approach. He could hole out in two now on 
his left ear. He strode up the hill to his 
ball. It could not have been lying better. 
Two inches away there was a nasty cup in 
the turf; but it had avoided this and was 
sitting nicely perched up, smiling an invita- 
tion to the mashie-niblick. Chester shuffled 
his feet and eyed the flag keenly. Then 
he stooped to play, and Felicia watched him 
breathlessly. Her whole being seemed to 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 141 

be concentrated on him. She had forgotten 
everything save that she was seeing a course 
record get broken. She could not have been 
more wrapped up in his success if she had had 
large sums of money on it. 

The Wrecking Crew, meanwhile, had come 
to life again. They had stopped twittering 
about Chester's brassie-shot and were thinking 
of resuming their own game. Even in four- 
somes where fifty yards is reckoned a good 
shot somebody must be away, and the man 
whose turn it was to play was the one who 
had acquired from his brother-members of 
the club the nickname of the First Grave- 
Digger. 

A word about this human wen. He was — 
if there can be said to be grades in such 
a sub-species — the star performer of the 
Wrecking Crew. The lunches of fifty- 
seven years had caused his chest to slip 
down into the mezzanine floor, but he was 
still a powerful man, and had in his youth 
been a hammer-thrower of some repute. 
He differed from his colleagues — the Man 
With the Hoe, Old Father Time, and Consul, \ 
the Almost Human — in that, while they 
were content to peck cautiously at the ball, 
he never spared himself in his efforts to do it 
a violent injury. Frequently he had cut a 
blue dot ahnost in half with his nibhck. 
He was completely muscle-bound, so that 
he seldom achieved anything beyond a 



142 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

series of chasms in the turf, but he was 
always trying, and it was his secret behef 
that, given two or three miracles happening 
simultaneously, he would one of these days 
bring off a snifter. Years of disappoint- 
ment had, however, reduced the flood of 
hope to a mere trickle, and when he took 
his brassie now and addressed the ball he 
had no immediate plans beyond a vague 
intention of rolling the thing a few yards 
farther up the hill. 

The fact that he had no business to play 
at all till Chester had holed out did not 
occur to him; and even if it had occurred 
he would have dismissed the objection as 
finicking. Chester, bending over his ball, 
was nearly two hundred yards away — or 
the distance of three full brassie-shots. 
The First Grave-Digger did not hesitate. 
He whirled up his club as in distant days he 
had been wont to swing the hammer, and, 
with the grunt which this performance always 
wrung from him, brought it down. 

Golfers — and I stretch this term to include 
the Wrecking Crew — are a highly imitative 
race. The spectacle of a flubber flubbing 
ahead of us on the fairway inclines to make 
us flub as well; and, conversely, it is imme- 
diately after we have seen a magnificent shot 
that we are apt to eclipse ourselves. Con- 
sciously the Grave-Digger had no notion 
how Chester had made that superb brassie- 
biff of his, but all the while I suppose his 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 143 

subconscious self had been taking notes. At 
any rate, on this one occasion he, too, did 
the shot of a hfetime. As he opened his 
eyes, which he always shut tightly at the 
moment of impact, and started to unravel 
himself from the complicated tangle in which 
his follow-through had left him, he perceived 
the ball breasting the hill like some un- 
tamed jack-rabbit of the Calif omian prairie. 

For a moment his only emotion was one 
of dreamlike amazement. He stood looking 
at the ball with a wholly impersonal wonder, 
like a man suddenly confronted with some 
terrific work of Nature. Then, as a sleep- 
walker awakens, he came to himself with a 
start. Directly in front of the flying ball 
was a man bending to make an approach- 
shot. 

Chester, always a concentrated golfer 
when there was man's work to do, had 
scarcely heard the crack of the brassie 
behind him. Certainly he had paid no 
attention to it. His whole mind was fixed 
on his stroke. He measured with his eye 
the distance to the pin, noted the down- 
slope of the green, and shifted his stance a 
little to allow for it. Then, with a final 
swift waggle, he laid his club-head behind 
the ball and slowly raised it. It was just 
coming down when the world became full 
of shouts of "Fore!" and something hard 
smote him violently on the seat of his plus- 
fours. 



144 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

The supreme tragedies of life leave us 
momentarily stunned. For an instant which 
seemed an age Chester could not understand 
what had happened. True, he realised that 
there had been an earthquake, a cloud-burst, 
and a railway accident, and that a high 
building had fallen on him at the exact 
moment when somebody had shot him with 
a gun, but these happenings would account 
for only a small part of his sensations. He 
blinked several times, and rolled his eyes 
wildly. And it was while rolling them that 
he caught sight of the gesticulating Wreck- 
ing Crew on the lower slopes and found 
enlightenment. Simultaneously, he observed 
his ball only a yard and a half from where 
it had been when he addressed it. 

Chester Meredith gave one look at his 
ball, one look at the flag, one look at the 
Wrecking Crew, one look at the sky. His 
lips writhed, his forehead turned vermilion. 
Beads of perspiration started out on his 
forehead. And then, with his whole soul 
seething like a cistern struck by a thunder- 
bolt, he spoke. 

"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'' cried Chester. 

Dimly he was aware of a wordless ex- 
clamation from the girl beside him, but he 
was too distraught to think of her now. 
It was as if all the oaths pent up within his 
bosom for so many weary days were strug- 
gling and jostling to see which could get out 
first. They cannoned into each other, the}^ 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 145 

linked hands and formed parties, they got 
themselves all mixed up in weird vowel- 
sounds, the second syllable of some red-hot 
verb forming a temporary union with the 
first syllable of some blistering noun. 

** I II III Mil till!" 

• •• ••• •••• ••••• 

cried Chester. 

Felicia stood staring at him. In her eyes 
was the look of one who sees visions. 

«'***!!! ***iti ***iji ***!ii" roared Ches- 
ter, in part. 

A great wave of emotion flooded over the 
girl. How she had misjudged this silver- 
tongued man! She shivered as she thought 
that, had this not happened, in another five 
minutes they would have parted for ever, 
sundered by seas of misunderstanding, she 
cold and scornful, he with all his music still 
within him. 

"Oh, Mr. Meredith!'* she cried, faintly. 

With a sickening abruptness Chester came 
to himself. It was as if somebody had 
poured a pint of ice-cold water down his back. 
He blushed vividly. He realised with horror 
and shame how grossly he had offended 
against all the canons of decency and good 
taste. He felt like the man in one of those 
"What Is Wrong With This Picture?" things 
in the advertisements of the etiquette- 
books. 

"I beg — I beg your pardon! " he mumbled, 
humbly. "Please, please, forgive me. I 
should not have spoken like that." 



146 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"You should! You should!" cried the 
girl, passionately. "You should have said 
all that and a lot more. That awful man 
ruining your record round like that! Oh, 
why am I a poor weak woman with prac- 
tically no vocabulary that's any use for 
anything!" 

Quite suddenly, without knowing that she 
had moved, she found herself at his side, 
holding his hand. 

" Oh, to think how I misjudged you ! " she 
wailed. " I thought you cold, stiff, formal, 
precise. I hated the way you sniggered when 
you foozled a shot. I see it all now ! You 
were keeping it in for my sake. Can you 
ever forgive me ? " 

Chester, as I have said, was not a very 
quick-minded young man, but it would 
have taken a duller youth than he to fail to 
read the message in the girl's eyes, to miss 
the meaning of the pressure of her hand on 
his. 

"My gosh!" he exclaimed wildly. "Do 

you mean ? Do you think ? Do 

you really ? Honestly, has this made 

a difference? Is there any chance for a 
fellow, I mean?" 

Her eyes helped him on. He felt suddenly 
confident and masterful. 

"Look here — no kidding — will you marry 
me? " he said. 

"I will! I will!" 

"Darling!" cried Chester. 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 147 

He would have said more, but at this 
point he was interrupted by the arrival 
of the Wrecking Crew, who panted up full 
of apologies; and Chester, as he eyed them, 
thought that he had never seen a nicer, 
cheerier, pleasanter lot of fellows in his 
life. His heart warmed to them. He made 
a mental resolve to hunt them up some 
time and have a good long talk. He 
waved the Grave-Digger's remorse airily 
aside. 

"Don't mention it," he said. "Not at 
all. Faults on both sides. By the way, 
my fiancee, Miss Blakeney." 

The Wrecking Crew puffed acknowledg- 
ment. 

"But, my dear fellow," said the Grave- 
Digger, "it was — really it was — unforgiv- 
able. Spoiling your shot. Never dreamed 
I would send the ball that distance. Lucky 
you weren't playing an important match." 

"But he was," moaned Felicia. "He was 
trying for the course record, and now he 
can't break it." 

The Wrecking Crew paled behind their 
whiskers, aghast at this tragedy, but Chester, 
glowing with the yeasty intoxication of love, 
laughed lightly. 

"What do you mean, can't break it?" 
he cried, cheerily. "I've one more shot." 

And, carelessly addressing the baU, he 
holed out with a light flick of his mashie- 
niblick. 



148 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Chester, darling!" said Felicia. 

They were walking slowly through a se- 
cluded glade in the quiet evenfall. 

"Yes, precious?" 

Felicia hesitated. What she was going to 
say would hurt him, she knew, and her love 
was so great that to hurt him was agony. 

"Do you think " she began. "I won- 
der whether It's about Crispin." 

" Good old Crispin !" 

Felicia sighed, but the matter was too 
vital to be shirked. Cost what it might, 
she must speak her mind. 

"Chester, darling, when we are married, 
would you mind very, very much if we 
didn't have Crispin with us all the time?" 

Chester started. 

"Good Lord!" he exclaimed. "Don't you 
like him?" 

"Not very much," confessed Felicia. "I 
don't think I'm clever enough for him. 
I've rather disliked him ever since we were 
children. But I know what a friend he is 
of yours " 

Chester uttered a joyous laugh. 

"Friend of mine! Why, I can't stand 
the blighter! I loathe the worm! I abom- 
inate the excrescence! I only pretended we 
were friends because I thought it would put 
me in solid with you. The man is a pest and 
should have been strangled at birth. At 
school I used to kick him every time I saw 
him. If your brother Crispin tries so much 



CHESTER FORGETS HIMSELF 149 

as to set foot across the threshold of our 
little home, Fll set the dog on him." 

"Darling!" whispered Felicia. "We shall 
be very, very happy." She drew her arm 
through his. "Tell me, dearest," she mur- 
mured, "all about how you used to kick 
Crispin at school." 

And together they wandered off into the 
sunset. 



CHAPTER V 

THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 



A^ 



FTER all," said the young man, 
golf is only a game." 
He spoke bitterly and with the 
air of one who has been following a train 
of thought. He had come into the smoking- 
room of the club-house in low spirits at the 
dusky close of a November evening, and for 
some minutes had been sitting, silent and 
moody, staring at the log fire. 

"Merely a pastime," said the young man. 

The Oldest Member, nodding in his arm- 
chair, stiffened with horror, and glanced quickly 
over his shoulder to make sure that none of 
the waiters had heard these terrible words. 

"Can this be George William Pennefather 
speaking! " he said, reproachfully. "My boy, 
you are not yourself." 

The young man flushed a little beneath 
his tan: for he had had a good upbringing 
and was not bad at heart. 

"Perhaps I ought not to have gone quite 
so far as that," he admitted. "I was only 

150 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 151 

thinking that a fellow's got no right, just 
because he happens to have come on a bit 
in his form lately, to treat a fellow as if a 
fellow was a leper or something." 

The Oldest Member's face cleared, and he 
breathed a relieved sigh. 

"Ah! I see," he said. "You spoke 
hastily and in a sudden fit of pique because 
something upset you out on the links to- 
day. Tell me all. Let me see, you were 
playing with Nathaniel Frisby this after- 
noon, were you not? I gather that he beat 
you." 

"Yes, he did. Giving me a third. But 
it isn't being beaten that I mind. What I 
object to is having the blighter behave as 
if he were a sort of champion condescending 
to a mere mortal. Dash it, it seemed to bore 
him playing with me! Every time I sliced 
off the tee he looked at me as if I were a 
painful ordeal. Twice when I was having a 
bit of trouble in the bushes I caught him 
yawning. And after we had finished he 
started talking about what a good game 
croquet was, and he wondered more people 
didn't take it up. And it's only a month or 
so ago that I could play the man level ! " 

The Oldest Member shook his snowy head 
sadly. 

"There is nothing to be done about it," 
he said. "We can only hope that the poison 
will in time work its way out of the man's 
system. Sudden success at golf is like the 



152 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

sudden acquisition of wealth. It is apt to 
unsettle and deteriorate the character. And, 
as it comes almost miraculously, so only a 
miracle can effect a cure. The best advice 
I can give you is to refrain from playing with 
Nathaniel Frisby till you can keep your 
tee-shots straight." 

"Oh, but don't run away with the idea 
that I wasn't pretty good off the tee this 
afternoon!" said the young man. "I should 
like to describe to you the shot I did on 
the " 

"Meanwhile," proceeded the Oldest Mem- 
ber, "I will relate to you a little story which 
bears on what I have been saying." 

"From the very moment I addressed the 
ball " 

"It is the story of two loving hearts 
temporarily estranged owing to the sudden 
and unforeseen proficiency of one of the 
couple " 

"I waggled quickly and strongly, like 
Duncan. Then, swinging smoothly back, 
rather in the Vardon manner " 

"But as I see," said the Oldest Member, 
"that you are all impatience for me to 
begin, I will do so without further pre- 
amble." 

To the philosophical student of golf like 
myself (said the Oldest Member) perhaps 
the most outstanding virtue of this noble 
pursuit is the fact that it is a medicine for 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 153 

the soul. Its great service to humanity is 
that it teaches human beings that, whatever 
petty triumphs they may have achieved in 
other walks of life, they are after all merely 
human. It acts as a corrective against 
sinful pride. I attribute the insane arro- 
gance of the later Roman emperors almost 
entirely to the fact that, never having played 
golf, they never knew that strange chasten- 
ing humility which is engendered by aj 
topped chip-shot. If Cleopatra had been 
outed in the first round of the Ladies' Singles, j. 
we should have heard a lot less of her proud 
imperiousness. And, coming down to modem 
times, it was undoubtedly his rotten golf 
that kept Wallace Chesney the nice un- 
spoiled fellow he was. For in every other 
respect he had everything in the world 
calculated to make a man conceited and 
arrogant. He was the best-looking man 
for miles around; his health was perfect; 
and, in addition to this, he was rich ; danced, 
rode, played bridge and polo with equal 
skill; and was engaged to be married to 
Charlotte Dix. And when you saw Charlotte 
Dix you realised that being engaged to her 
would by itself have been quite enough 
luck for any one man. 

But Wallace, as I say, despite all his 
advantages, was a thoroughly nice, modest 
young fellow. And I attribute this to the 
fact that, while one of the keenest golfers 
in the club, he was also one of the worst 



154 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

players. Indeed, Charlotte Dix used to say 
to me in his presence that she could not 
understand why people paid money to go 
to the circus when by merely walking over 
the brow of a hill they could watch Wallace 
Chesney trying to get out of the bunker by 
the eleventh green. And Wallace took the 
gibe with perfect good humour, for there 
was a delightful camaraderie between them 
which robbed it of any sting. Often at 
lunch in the club-house I used to hear him 
and Charlotte planning the handicapping 
details of a proposed match between Wallace 
and a non-existent cripple whom Charlotte 
claimed to have discovered in the village 
• — it being agreed finally that he should 
accept seven bisques from the cripple, but 
that, if the latter ever recovered the use of 
his arms, Wallace should get a stroke a hole. 

In short, a thoroughly happy and united 
young couple. Two hearts, if I may coin 
an expression, that beat as one. 

I would not have you misjudge Wallace 
Chesney. I may have given you the impres- 
sion that his attitude towards golf was light 
and frivolous, but such was not the case. 
As I have said, he was one of the keenest 
members of the club. Love made him 
receive the joshing of his fiancee in the kindly 
spirit in which it was meant, but at heart 
he was as earnest as you could wish. He 
practised early and late; he bought golf 
books; and the mere sight of a patent 



s 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 155 

club of any description acted on him like 
catnip on a cat. I remember remonstrating 
with him on the occasion of his purchasing 
a wooden-faced driving-mashie which weighed 
about two pounds, and was, taking it for all 
in all, as foul an instrument as ever came 
out of the workshop of a clubmaker who 
had been dropped on the head by his nurse 
when a baby. 

"I know, I know," he said, when I had 
finished indicating some of the weapon's 
more obvious defects. "But the point is, 
I believe in it. It gives me confidence. I 
don't believe you could shce with a thing 
like that if you tried." 

Confidence! That was what Wallace 
Chesney lacked, and that, as he saw it, was 
the prime grand secret of golf. Like an 
alchemist on the track of the Philosopher's 
Stone, he was for ever seeking for something 
which would really give him confidence. I 
recollect that he even tried repeating to 
himself fifty times every morning the words, 
"Every day in every way I grow better and 
better." This, however, proved such a black 
lie that he gave it up. The fact is, the man 
was a visionary, and it is to auto-hypnosis 
of some kind that I attribute the extra- 
ordinary change that came over him at the 
beginning of his third season. 

You may have noticed in your peram- 
bulations about the City a shop bearing 



156 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

above its door and upon its windows the 
legend : 

COHEN BROS., 

Second-hand Clothiers, 

a statement which is borne out by endless 
vistas seen through the door of every 
variety of what is technically known as 
Gents' Wear. But the Brothers Cohen, 
though their main stock-in-trade is garments 
which have been rejected by their owners 
for one reason or another, do not confine 
their dealings to Gents' Wear. The place 
is a museum of derelict goods of every 
description. You can get a second-hand 
revolver there, or a second-hand sword, or 
a second-hand umbrella. You can do a 
cheap deal in field-glasses, trunks, dog collars, 
canes, photograph frames, attache cases, 
and bowls for goldfish. And on the bright 
spring morning when Wallace Chesney hap- 
pened to pass by there was exhibited in 
the window a putter of such pre-eminently 
lunatic design that he stopped dead as 
if he had run into an invisible wall, and 
then, panting like an overwrought fish, 
charged in through the door. 

The shop was full of the Cohen family, 
sombre-eyed, smileless men with purposeful 
expressions; and two of these, instantly 
descending upon Wallace Chesney like 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 157 

leopards, began in swift silence to thrust 
him into a suit of yellow tweed. Having 
worked the coat over his shoulders with a 
shoe-horn, they stood back to watch the 
effect. 

"A beautiful fit,'* announced Isidore 
Cohen. 

"A little snug under the arms," said his 
brother Irving. "But that'll give." 

"The warmth of the body will make it 
give," said Isidore. 

"Or maybe you'U lose weight in the 
summer," said Irving. 

Wallace, when he had struggled out of the 
coat and was able to breathe, said that he 
had come in to buy a putter. Isidore there- 
upon sold him the putter, a dog collar, and 
a set of studs, and Irving sold him a fire- 
man's helmet : and he was about to leave 
when their elder brother Lou, who had 
just finished fitting out another customer, 
who had come in to buy a cap, with two pairs 
of trousers and a miniature aquarium for 
keeping newts in, saw that business was in 
progress and strolled up. His fathomless 
eye rested on Wallace, who was toying 
feebly with the putter. 

"You play golf?" asked Lou. "Then 
looka here ! " 

He dived into an alleyway of dead cloth- 
ing, dug for a moment, and emerged with 
something at the sight of which Wallace 
Chesney, hardened golfer that he was, 



158 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

blenched and threw up an arm defen- 
sively. 

"No, no!" he cried. 

The object which Lou Cohen was waving 
insinuatingly before his eyes was a pair of 
those golfing breeches which are technically 
known as Plus Fours. A player of two 
years' standing, Wallace Chesney was not 
unfamiliar with Plus Fours — all the club 
cracks wore them — but he had never seen 
Plus Fours like these. What might be 
termed the main motif of the fabric was a 
curious vivid pink, and with this to work on 
the architect had let his imagination run 
free, and had produced so much variety in 
the way of chessboard squares of white, 
yellow, violet, and green that the eye swam 
as it looked upon them. 

"These were made to measure for Sandy 
McHoots, the Open Champion," said Lou, 
stroking the left leg lovingly. "But he 
sent 'em back for some reason or other." 

"Perhaps they frightened the children," 
said Wallace, recollecting having heard that 
Mr. McHoots was a married man. 
They'll fit you nice," said Lou. 
Sure they'll fit him nice," said Isidore, 
warmly. 

"Why, just take a look at yourself in the 
glass," said Irving, "and see if they don't 
St you nice," 

And, as one who wakes from a trance, 
Wallace discovered that his lower limbs were 






. THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 159 

now encased in the prismatic garment. At 
what point in the proceedings the brethren 
had shpped them on him, he could not have 
said. But he was undeniably in. 

Wallace looked in the glass. For a 
moment, as he eyed his reflection, sheer 
horror gripped him. Then suddenly, as he 
gazed, he became aware that his first feelings 
were changing. The initial shock over, he 
was becoming calmer. He waggled his right 
leg with a certain sang-froid. 

There is a certain passage in the works of 
the poet Pope with which you may be 
familiar. It runs as follows: 

" Vice is a monster of so frightful mien 
As to be hated needs hut to he seen : 
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, 
We first endure, then pity, then embrace." 

Even so was it with Wallace Chesney and 
these Plus Fours. At first he had recoiled 
from them as any decent-minded man would 
have done. Then, after a while, almost 
abruptly he found himself in the grip of 
a new emotion. After an unsuccessful 
attempt to analyse this, he suddenly got it. 
Amazing as it may seem, it was pleasure 
that he felt. He caught his eye in the 
mirror, and it was smirking. Now that the 
things were actually on, by Hutchinson, 
they didn't look half bad. By Braid, they 
didn't. There was a sort of something 



i6o THE HEART OF A GOOF 

about them. Take away that expanse of 
bare leg with its unsightly sock-suspender 
and substitute a woolly stocking, and you 
would have the lower section of a golfer. 
For the first time in his life, he thought, he 
looked like a man who could play golf. 

There came to him an odd sensation of 
masterfulness. He was still holding the 
putter, and now he swung it up above his 
shoulder. A fine swing, all lissomness and 
supple grace, quite different from any swing 
he had ever done before. 

Wallace Chesney gasped. He knew that 
at last he had discovered that prime grand 
secret of golf for which he had searched so 
long. It was the costume that did it. All 
you had to do was wear Plus Fours. He 
had always hitherto played in grey flannel 
trousers. Naturally he had not been able 
to do himself justice. Golf required an easy 
dash, and how could you be easily dashing 
in concertina-shaped trousers with a patch 
on the knee? He saw now — what he had 
never seen before — that it was not because 
they were crack players that crack players 
wore Plus Fours : it was because they wore 
Plus Fours that they were crack players. 
And these Plus Fours had been the property 
of an Open Champion. Wallace Chesney's 
bosom swelled, and he was filled, as by some 
strange gas, with joy — with excitement — 
with confidence. Yes, for the first time in 
his golfing life, he felt really confident. 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS i6i 

True, the things might have been a shade 
less gaudy: they might perhaps have hit 
the eye with a shghtly less violent punch: 
but what of that? True, again, he could 
scarcely hope to avoid the censure of his 
club-mates when he appeared like this on 
the links : but what of that ? His club- 
mates must set their teeth and learn to bear 
these Plus Fours like men. That was what 
Wallace Chesney thought about it. If they 
did not like his Plus Fours, let them go and 
play golf somewhere else. 

"How much?" he muttered, thickly. And 
the Brothers Cohen clustered grimly round 
with notebooks and pencils. 

In predicting a stormy reception for his 
new apparel, Wallace Chesney had not been 
unduly pessimistic. The moment he entered 
the club-house Disaffection reared its ugly 
head. Friends of years' standing called 
loudly for the committee, and there was a 
small and vehement party of the left wing, 
headed by Raymond Candle, who was an 
artist by profession, and consequently had 
a sensitive eye, which advocated the tearing 
off and public burial of the obnoxious gar- 
ment. But, prepared as he had been for 
some such demonstration on the part of 
the coarser-minded, Wallace had hoped for 
better things when he should meet Charlotte 
Dix, the girl who loved him. Charlotte, he had 
supposed, would understand and sympathise. 



i62 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Instead of which, she uttered a piercing 
cry and staggered to a bench, whence a 
moment later she deUvered her ultimatum. 

"Quick!" she said. "Before I have to 
look again." 

"What do you mean?" 

"Pop straight back into the changing- 
room while I've got my eyes shut, and 
remove the fancy-dress." 

"What's wrong with them?" 

"Darling," said Charlotte, "I think it's 
sweet and patriotic of you to be proud of 
your cycling club colours or whatever they 
are, but you mustn't wear them on the 
links. It will unsettle the caddies." 

"They are a trifle on the bright side," 
admitted Wallace. "But it helps my game, 
wearing them. I was trying a few practice- 
shots just now, and I couldn't go wrong. 
Slammed the ball on the meat every time. 
They inspire me, if you know what I mean. 
Come on, let's be starting." 

Charlotte opened her eyes incredulously. 

"You can't seriously mean that you're 
really gping to play in — those? It's against 
the rules. There must be a rule somewhere 
in the book against coming out looking like 
a sunset. Won't you go and burn them for 
my sake? " 

"But I tell you they give me confidence. 
I sort of squint down at them when I'm 
addressing the ball, and I feel like a 
pro. 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 163 

"Then the only thing to do is for me to 
play you for them. Come on, Wally, be a 
sportsman. I'll give you a half and play you 
for the whole outfit — the breeches, the red 
jacket, the httle cap, and the belt with the 
snake's-head buckle. I'm sure all those 
things must have gone with the breeches. 
Is it a bargain?" 

Strolhng on the club-house terrace some 
two hours later, Raymond Gandle encoun- 
tered Charlotte and Wallace coming up from 
the eighteenth green. 

"Just the girl I wanted to see," said 
Raymond. "Miss Dix, I represent a select 
committee of my fellow-members, and I 
have come to ask you on their behalf to use 
the influence of a good woman to induce 
Wally to destroy those Plus Fours of his, 
which we all consider nothing short of 
, Bolshevik propaganda and a menace to the 
^ public weal. May I rely on you?" 

"You may not," retorted Charlotte. 
"They are the poor boy's mascot. You've 
no idea how they have improved his game. 
He has just beaten me hollow. I am going 
to try to learn to bear them, so you must. 
Really, you've no notion how he has come 
on. My cripple won't be able to give him 
more than a couple of bisques if he keeps 
up this form." 

"It's something about the things," said 
Wallace. "They give me confidence." 



i64 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"They give me a pain in the neck," said 
Raymond Gandle. 

To the thinking man nothing is more 
remarkable in this Hfe than the way in 
which Humanity adjusts itself to condi- 
tions which at their outset might well have 
appeared intolerable. Some great cataclysm 
occurs, some storm or earthquake, shaking 
the community to its foundations ; and after 
the first pardonable consternation one finds 
the sufferers resuming their ordinary pur- 
suits as if nothing had happened. There 
have been few more striking examples of 
this adaptability than the behaviour of the 
members of our golf-club under the impact 
of Wallace Chesney's Plus Fours. For the 
first few days it is not too much to say that 
they were stunned. Nervous players sent 
their caddies on in front of them at blind 
holes, so that they might be warned in 
time of Wallace's presence ahead and not 
have him happening to them all of a sudden. 
And even the pro. was not unaffected. 
Brought up in Scotland in an atmosphere 
of tartan kilts, he nevertheless winced, and 
a startled "Hoots!" was forced from his 
lips when Wallace Chesney suddenly ap- 
peared in the valley as he was about to 
drive from the fifth tee. 

But in about a week conditions were back 
to normalcy. Within ten days the Plus 
Fours became a familiar feature of the land- 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 165 

scape, and were accepted as such without 
comment. They were pointed out to 
strangers together with the waterfall, the 
Lovers' Leap, and the view from the eighth 
green as things you ought not to miss when 
visiting the course; but apart from that 
one might almost say they were ignored. 
And meanwhile Wallace Chesney continued 
day by day to make the most extraordinary 
progress in his play. 

As I said before, and I think you will 
agree with me when I have told you what 
happened subsequently, it was probably a 
case of auto-hypnosis. There is no other 
sphere in which a belief in oneself has such 
immediate effects as it has in golf. And 
Wallace, having acquired self-confidence, 
went on from strength to strength. In 
under a week he had ploughed his way 
through the Unfortunate Incidents — of which 
class Peter Willard was the best example — 
and was challenging the fellows who kept 
three shots in five somewhere on the fairway. 
A month later he was holding his own with 
ten-handicap men. And by the middle of 
the summer he was so far advanced that 
his name occasionally cropped up in specu- 
lative talks on the subject of the July medal. 
One might have been excused for supposing 
that, as far as Wallace Chesney was con- 
cerned, all was for the best in the best of all 
possible worlds. 

And yet 



i66 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

The first inkling I received that anything 
was wrong came through a chance meeting 
with Raymond Gandle, who happened to 
pass my gate on his way back from the 
links just as I drove up in my taxi; for I 
had been away from home for many weeks 
on a protracted business tour. I welcomed 
Candle's advent and invited him in to smoke 
a pipe and put me abreast of local gossip. 
He came readily enough — and seemed, in- 
deed, to have something on his mind and to 
be glad of the opportunity of revealing it 
to a sympathetic auditor. 

"And how," I asked him, when we were 
comfortably settled, "did your game this 
afternoon come out? " 

"Oh, he beat me," said Gandle, and it 
seemed to me that there was a note of 
bitterness in his voice. 

"Then He, whoever he was, must have been 
an extremely competent performer? " I replied, 
courteously, for Gandle was one of the finest 
players in the club. "Unless, of course, you 
were giving him some impossible handicap." 

"No; we played level." 

"Indeed! Who was your opponent?" 

"Chesney." 

"Wallace Chesney! And he beat you, 
playing level! This is the most amazing 
thing I have ever heard." 

"He's improved out of all knowledge." 

"He must have done. Do you think he 
would ever beat you again?" 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 167 

*'No. Because he won't have the chance." 

"You surely do not mean that you will 
not play him because you are afraid of 
being beaten? " 

"It isn't being beaten I mind " 

And if I omit to report the remainder of 
his speech it is not merely because it con- 
tained expressions with which I am reluctant 
to sully my lips, but because, omitting these 
expletives, what he said was almost word 
for word what you were saying to me just 
now about Nathaniel Frisby. It was, it 
seemed, Wallace Chesney's manner, his 
arrogance, his attitude of belonging to some 
superior order of being that had so wounded 
Raymond Gandle. Wallace Chesney had, 
it appeared, criticised Candle's mashie-play 
in no friendly spirit ; had hung up the 
game on the fourteenth tee in order to 
show him how to place his feet ; and on 
the way back to the club-house had said 
that the beauty of golf was that the best 
player could enjoy a round even with a 
dud, because, though there might be no 
interest in the match, he could always 
amuse himself by playing for his medal 
score. 

I was profoundly shaken. 

"Wallace Chesney!" I exclaimed. "Was 
it really W^allace Chesney who behaved in 
the manner you describe ? " 

"Unless he's got a twin brother of the 
same name, it was." 

F2 



i68 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Wallace Chesney a victim to swelled 
head! I can hardly credit it." 

"Well, you needn't take my word for 
it unless you want to. Ask anybody. It 
isn't often he can get anyone to play with 
him now." 

"You horrify me!" 

Raymond Gandle smoked awhile in brood- 
ing silence. 

"You've heard about his engagement?" 
he said at length. 

"I have heard nothing, nothing. What 
about his engagement?" 

"Charlotte Dix has broken it off." 

"No!" 

"Yes. Couldn't stand him any longer." 

I got rid of Gandle as soon as I could. 
I made my way as quickly as possible to 
the house where Charlotte lived with her 
aunt. I was determined to sift this matter 
to the bottom and to do all that lay in 
my power to heal the breach between two 
young people for whom I had a great 
affection. 

"I have just heard the news," I said, 
when the aunt had retired to some secret 
lair, as aunts do, and Charlotte and I were 
alone. 

"What news?" said Charlotte, dully. I 
thought she looked pale and ill, and she 
had certainly grown thinner. 

"This dreadful news about your engage- 
ment to Wallace Chesney. Tell me, why 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 169 

did you do this thing? Is there no hope 
of a reconcihation? " 

"Not unless Wally becomes his old self 
again." 

"But I had always regarded you two as 
ideally suited to one another." 

"Wally has completely changed in the 
last few weeks. Haven't you heard?" 

"Only sketchily, from Raymond Gandle." 

"I refuse," said Charlotte, proudly, all 
the woman in her leaping to her eyes, "to 
marry a man who treats me as if I were a 
kronen at the present rate of exchange, 
merely because I slice an occasional tee- 
shot. The afternoon I broke off the engage- 
ment" — her voice shook, and I could see 
that her indifference was but a mask — "the 
afternoon I broke off the en-gug-gug-gage- 
ment, he t-told me I ought to use an iron 
off the tee instead of a dud-dud-driver." 

And the stricken girl burst into an uncon- 
trollable fit of sobbing. And realising that, 
if mattery had gone as far as that, there 
was little I could do, I pressed her hand 
silently and left her. 

But though it seemed hopeless I decided 
to persevere. I turned my steps towards 
Wallace Chesney's bungalow, resolved to 
make one appeal to the man's better feelings. 
He was in his sitting-room when I arrived, 
polishing a putter; and it seemed significant 
to me even, in that tense moment, that the 



170 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

putter was quite an ordinary one, such as 
any capable player might use. In the brave 
old happy days of his dudhood, the only 
putters you ever found in the society of 
Wallace Chesney were patent self-adjusting 
things that looked hke croquet mallets that 
had taken the wrong turning in childhood. 
"Well, Wallace, my boy," I said. 
"Hallo!" said Wallace Chesney. "So 
you're back? " 

We fell into conversation, and I had not 
been in the room two minutes before I 
realised that what I had been told about 
the change in him was nothing more than 
the truth. The man's bearing and his every 
remark were insufferably bumptious. He 
spoke of his prospects in the July medal 
competition as if the issue were already 
settled. He scoffed at his rivals. 

I had some little difficulty in bringing the 
talk round to the matter which I had come 
to discuss. 

"My boy," I said at length, "I have just 
heard the sad news." 
"What sad news?" 

"I have been talking to Charlotte " 

"Oh, that!" said Wallace Chesney. 

"She was telling me " 

"Perhaps it's all for the best." 

"All for the best? What do you mean?" 

"Well," said Wallace, "one doesn't wish, 

of course, to say anything ungallant, but, 

after all, poor Charlotte's handicap is four- 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 171 

teen and wouldn't appear to have much 
chance of getting any lower. I mean, there's 
such a thing as a fellow throwing himself 
away." 

Was I revolted at these callous words? 
For a moment, yes. Then it struck me 
that, though he had uttered them with a 
light laugh, that laugh had had in it more 
than a touch of bravado. I looked at him 
keenly. There was a bored, discontented 
expression in his eyes, a line of pain about 
his mouth. 

"My boy," I said, gravely, "you are not 
happy." 

For an instant I think he would have 
denied the imputation. But my visit had 
coincided with one of those twilight moods 
in which a man requires, above all else, 
sympathy. He uttered a weary sigh. 

" I'm fed up," he admitted. " It's a funny 
thing. When I was a dud, I used to think 
how perfect it must be to be scratch. I 
used to watch the cracks buzzing round the 
course and envy them. It's all a fraud. 
The only time when you enjoy golf is when 
an occasional decent shot is enough to make 
you happy for the day. I'm plus two, and 
I'm bored to death. I'm too good. And 
what's the result? Everybody's jealous of 
me. Everybody's got it in for me. Nobody 
loves me." 

His voice rose in a note of anguish, and 
at the sound his terrier, which had been 



172 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

sleeping on the rug, crept forward and 
licked his hand. 

"The dog loves you," I said, gently, for 
I was touched. 

"Yes, but I don't love the dog," said 
Wallace Chesney. 

"Now come, Wallace," I said. "Be 
reasonable, my boy. It is only your unfor- 
tunate manner on the links which has made 
you perhaps a little unpopular at the mo- 
ment. Why not pull yourself up? Why 
ruin your whole life with this arrogance? 
All that you need is a little tact, a little 
forbearance. Charlotte, I am sure, is just 
as fond of you as ever, but you have wounded 
her pride. Why must you be unkind about 
her tee-shots? " 

Wallace Chesney shook his head despon- 
dently. 

"I can't help it," he said. "It exas- 
perates me to see anyone foozling, and I 
have to say so." 

"Then there is nothing to be done," I 
said, sadly. 

All the medal competitions at our club 
are, as you know, important events; but, 
as you are also aware, none of them is looked 
forward to so keenly or contested so hotly 
as the one in July. At the beginning of 
the year of which I am speaking, Raymond 
Gandle had been considered the probable 
winner of the fixture; but as the season 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 173 

progressed and Wallace Chesney's skill 
developed to such a remarkable extent most 
of us were reluctantly inclined to put our 
money on the latter. Reluctantly, because 
Wallace's unpopularity was now so general 
that the thought of his winning was dis- 
tasteful to all. It grieved me to see how 
cold his fellow-members were towards him. 
He drove off from the first tee without 
a solitary hand-clap; and, though the 
drive was of admirable quality and nearly 
carried the green, there was not a single 
cheer. I noticed Charlotte Dix among the 
spectators. The poor girl was looking sad 
and wan. 

In the draw for partners Wallace had 
had Peter Willard allotted to him; and he 
muttered to me in a quite audible voice that 
it was as bad as handicapping him half-a- 
dozen strokes to make him play with such 
a hopeless performer. I do not think Peter 
heard, but it would not have made much 
difference to him if he had, for I doubt if 
anything could have had much effect for 
the worse on his game. Peter Willard always 
entered for the medal competition, because 
he said that competition-play was good for 
the nerves. 

On this occasion he topped his ball 
badly, and Wallace lit his pipe with the 
exaggeratedly patient air of an irritated 
man. When Peter topped his second also, 
Wallace was moved to speech. 



174 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"For goodness' sake," he snapped, "what's 
the good of playing at all if you insist on 
lifting your head? Keep it down, man, keep 
it down. You don't need to watch to see 
where the ball is going. It isn't likely to 
go as far as all that. Make up your mind 
to count three before you look up." 

"Thanks," said Peter, meekly. There 
was no pride in Peter to be wounded. He 
knew the sort of player he was. 

The couples were now moving off with 
smooth rapidity, and the course was dotted 
with the figures of players and their accom- 
panying spectators. A fair proportion of 
these latter had decided to follow the for- 
tunes of Raymond Gandle, but by far the 
larger number were sticking to Wallace, who 
right from the start showed that Gandle 
or anyone else would have to return a very 
fine card to beat him. He was out in thirty- 
seven, two above bogey, and with the assis- 
tance of a superb second, which landed the 
ball within a foot of the pin, got a three on 
the tenth, where a four is considered good. 
I mention this to show that by the time he 
arrived at the short lake-hole Wallace Chesney 
was at the top of his form. Not even the 
fact that he had been obliged to let the next 
couple through owing to Peter Willard losing 
his ball had been enough to upset him. 

The course has been rearranged since, but 
at that time the lake-hole, which is now the 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 175 

second, was the eleventh, and was generally- 
looked on as the crucial hole in a medal 
round. Wallace no doubt realised this, but the 
knowledge did not seem to affect him. He lit 
his pipe with the utmost coolness : and, hav- 
ing replaced the match-box in his hip-pocket, 
stood smoking nonchalantly as he waited for 
the couple in front to get off the green. 

They holed out eventually, and Wallace 
walked to the tee. As he did so, he was 
startled to receive a resounding smack. 

"Sorry," said Peter Willard, apologetically. 
"Hope I didn't hurt you. A wasp." 

And he pointed to the corpse, which was 
lying in a used-up attitude on the ground. 

"Afraid it would sting you," said Peter. 

"Oh, thanks," said Wallace. 

He spoke a little stiffly, for Peter Willard 
had a large, hard, flat hand, the impact of 
which had shaken him up considerably. 
Also, there had been laughter in the crowd. 
He was fuming as he bent to address his 
ball, and his annoyance became acute when, 
just as he reached the top of his swing, 
Peter Willard suddenly spoke. 

"Just a second, old man," said Peter. 
Wallace spun round, outraged. 

"What is it? I do wish you would wait 
till I've made my shot." 

"Just as you like," said Peter, humbly. 

"There is no greater crime that a man 
can commit on the links than to speak to a 
feUow when he's making his stroke." 



176 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Of course, of course," acquiesced Peter, 
crushed. 

Wallace turned to his ball once more. He 
was vaguely conscious of a discomfort to 
which he could not at the moment give a 
name. At first he thought that he was 
having a spasm of lumbago, and this sur- 
prised him, for he had never in his life been 
subject to even a suspicion of that malady. 
A moment later he realised that this diag- 
nosis had been wrong. 

"Good heavens!" he cried, leaping nimbly 
some two feet into the air. "I'm on fire!" 

"Yes," said Peter, delighted at his ready 
grasp of the situation. "That's what I 
wanted to mention just now." 

Wallace slapped vigorously at the seat of 
his Plus Fours. 

"It must have been when I killed that 
wasp," said Peter, beginning to see clearly 
into the matter. "You had a match-box 
in your pocket." 

Wallace was in no mood to stop and dis- 
cuss first causes. He was springing up and 
down on his pyre, beating at the flames. 

"Do you know what I should do if I 
were you?" said Peter Willard. "I should 
jump into the lake." 

One of the cardinal rules of golf is that a 
player shall accept no advice from anyone 
but his own caddie; but the warmth about 
his lower limbs had now become so generous 
that Wallace was prepared to stretch a 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 177 

point. He took three rapid strides and 
entered the water with a splash. 

The lake, though muddy, is not deep, and 
presently Wallace was to be observed stand- 
ing up to his waist some few feet from the 
shore. 

"That ought to have put it out/* said 
Peter Willard. "It was a bit of luck that 
it happened at this hole." He stretched 
out a hand to the bather. "Catch hold, 
old man, and I'll pull you out.'* 

"No!" said Wallace Chesney. 

"Why not?" 

"Never mind!" said Wallace, austerely. 
He bent as near to Peter as he was able. 

"Send a caddie up to the club-house to 
fetch my grey flannel trousers from my 
locker," he whispered, tensely. 

"Oh, ah!" said Peter. 

It was some little time before Wallace, 
encircled by a group of male spectators, was 
enabled to change his costume; and during 
the interval he continued to stand waist- 
deep in the water, to the chagrin of various 
couples who came to the tee in the course 
of their round and complained with not a 
little bitterness that his presence there added 
a mental hazard to an already difficult 
hole. Eventually, however, he found him- 
self back ashore, his ball before him, his 
mashie in his hand. 

"Carry on," said Peter Willard, as the 
couple in front left the green. "All clear now." 



178 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Wallace Chesney addressed his ball. And, 
even as he did so, he was suddenly aware 
that an odd psychological change had taken 
place in himself. He was aware of a strange 
weakness. The charred remains of the Plus 
Fours were lying under an adjacent bush; 
and, clad in the old grey flannels of his 
early golfing days, Wallace felt diffident, 
feeble, uncertain of himself. It was as 
though virtue had gone out of him, as if 
some indispensable adjun<:t to good play 
had been removed. His corrugated trouser- 
leg caught his eye as he waggled, and all at 
once he became acutely alive to the fact 
that many eyes were watching him. The 
audience seemed to press on him like a 
blanket. He felt as he had been wont to 
feel in the old days when he had had to 
drive off the first tee in front of a terrace-full 
of scoffing critics. 

The next moment his ball had bounded 
weakly over the intervening patch of turf 
and was in the water. 

"Hard luck!" said Peter Willard, ever a 
generous foe. And the words seemed to 
touch some almost atrophied chord in 
Wallace's breast. A sudden love for his 
species flooded over him. Dashed decent 
of Peter, he thought, to sympathise. Peter 
was a good chap. So were the spectators 
good chaps. So was everybody, even his 
caddie. 

Peter Willard, as if resolved to make his 



THE MAGIC PLUS FOURS 179 

sympathy practical, also rolled his ball into 
the lake. 

"Hard luck!" said Wallace Chesney, and 
started as he said it; for many weeks had 
passed since he had commiserated with an 
opponent. He felt a changed man. A bet- 
ter, sweeter, kindlier man. It was as if a 
curse had fallen from him. 

He teed up another ball, and swung. 

"Hard luck!" said Peter. 

"Hard luck!" said Wallace, a moment 
later. 

"Hard luck!" said Peter, a moment after 
that. 

Wallace Chesney stood on the tee watching 
the spot in the water where his third ball 
had fallen. The crowd was now openly 
amused, and, as he listened to their happy 
laughter, it was borne in upon Wallace that 
he, too, was amused and happy. A weird, 
almost effervescent exhilaration filled him. 
He turned and beamed upon the spectators. 
He waved his mashie cheerily at them. 
This, he felt, was something like golf. This 
was golf as it should be — not the dull, 
mechanical thing which had bored him 
during all these past weeks of his perfection, 
but a gay, rolhcking adventure. That was 
the soul of golf, the thing that made it the 
wonderful pursuit it was — that speculative- 
ness, that not knowing where the dickens 
your ball was going when you hit it, that 
eternal hoping for the best, that never- 



i8o THE HEART OF A GOOF 

failing chanciness. It is better to travel 
hopefully than to arrive, and at last this 
great truth had come home to Wallace 
Chesney. He realised now why pro's were 
all grave, silent men who seemed to struggle 
manfully against some secret sorrow. It 
was because they were too darned good. 
Golf had no surprises for them, no gallant 
spirit of adventure. 

"I'm going to get a ball over if I stay 
here all night," cried Wallace Chesney, gaily, 
and the crowd echoed his mirth. On the 
face of Charlotte Dix was the look of a 
mother whose prodigal son has rolled into 
the old home once more. She caught 
Wallace's eye and gesticulated to him 
bUthely. 

"The cripple says he'll give you a stroke 
a hole, Wally!" she shouted. 

"I'm ready for him!" bellowed Wallace. 

"Hard luck! " said Peter Willard. 

Under their bush the Plus Fours, charred 
and dripping, lurked unnoticed. But Wallace 
Chesney saw them. They caught his eye as 
he sliced his eleventh into the marshes on 
the right. It seemed to him that they 
looked sullen. Disappointed. Baffled. 

Wallace Chesney was himself again. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE AWAKENING OF ROLLO PODMARSH 

DOWN on the new bowling-green behind 
the club-house some sort of com- 
petition was in progress. The seats 
about the smooth strip of turf were crowded, 
and the weak-minded yapping of the patients 
made itself plainly audible to the Oldest 
Member as he sat in his favourite chair in 
the smoking-room. He shifted restlessly, and 
a frown marred the placidity of his venerable 
brow. To the Oldest Member a golf-club 
was a golf-club, and he resented the intro- 
duction of any alien element. He had 
opposed the institution of tennis-courts; and 
the suggestion of a bowling-green had stirred 
him to his depths. 

A young man in spectacles came into 
the smoking-room. His high forehead was 
aglow, and he lapped up a ginger-ale with 
the air of one who considers that he has 
earned it. 

"Capital exercise!" he said, beaming upon 
the Oldest Member. 

i8i 



i82 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

The Oldest Member laid down his Vardon 
On Casual Water, and peered suspiciously at 
his companion. 

''What did you go round in? " he asked. 

"Oh, I wasn't playing golf," said the 
young man. "Bowls." 

"A nauseous pursuit!" said the Oldest 
Member, coldly, and resumed his reading. 

The young man seemed nettled. 

"I don't know why you should say 
that," he retorted. "It's a splendid 
game." 

"I rank it," said the Oldest Member, 
"with the juvenile pastime of marbles." 

The young man pondered for some 
moments. 

"Well, anyway," he said at length, "it 
was good enough for Drake." 

"As I have not the pleasure of the 
acquaintance of your friend Drake, I am 
unable to estimate the value of his en- 
dorsement." 

"The Drake. The Spanish Armada 
Drake. He was playing bowls on Plymouth 
Hoe when they told him that the Armada 
was in sight. 'There is time to finish the 
game,' he replied. That's what Drake 
thought of bowls." 

"If he had been a golfer he would have 
ignored the Armada altogether." 

"It's easy enough to say that," said the 
young man, with spirit, "but can the history 
of golf show a parallel case ? " 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH i8^ 






A million, I should imagine." 
But you've forgotten them, eh?'* said 
the young man, satirically. 

"On the contrary," said the Oldest 
Member. "As a typical instance, neither 
more nor less remarkable than a hundred 
others, I will select the story of Rollo 
Podmarsh." He settled himself comfort- 
ably in his chair, and placed the tips 
of his fingers together. "This Rollo 
Podmarsh ' ' 

"No, I say!" protested the young man, 
looking at his watch. 

"This Rollo Podmarsh " 

"Yes, but " 

This Rollo Podmarsh (said the Oldest 
Member) was the only son of his mother, 
and she was a widow; and like other young 
men in that position he had rather allowed 
a mother's tender care to take the edge off 
what you might call his rugged manliness. 
Not to put too fine a point on it, he had 
permitted his parent to coddle him ever 
since he had been in the nursery; and now, 
in his twenty-eighth year, he invariably 
wore flannel next his skin, changed his 
shoes the moment they got wet, and — from 
September to May, inclusive — never went 
to bed without partaking of a bowl of hot 
arrowroot. Not, you would say, the stuff 
of which heroes are made. But you would 
be wrong. Rollo Podmarsh was a golfer, 
and consequently pure gold at heart; and 



i84 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

in his hour of crisis all the good in him came 
to the surface. 

In giving you this character-sketch of 
RoUo, I have been at pains to make it crisp, 
for I observe that you are wriggling in a 
restless manner and you persist in pulling 
out that watch of yours and gazing at it. 
Let me tell you that, if a mere skeleton 
outline of the man has this effect upon you, 
I am glad for your sake that you never met 
his mother. Mrs. Podmarsh could talk 
with enjoyment for hours on end about her 
son's character and habits. And, on the 
September evening on which I introduce 
her to you, though she had, as a fact, been 
speaking only for some ten minutes, it had 
seemed like hours to the girl, Mary Kent, 
who was the party of the second part to the 
conversation. 

Mary Kent was the daughter of an old 
school-friend of Mrs. Podmarsh, and she had 
come to spend the autumn and winter with 
her while her parents were abroad. The 
scheme had never looked particularly good 
to Mary, and after ten minutes of her hostess 
on the subject of Rollo she was beginning 
to weave dreams of knotted sheets and a 
swift getaway through the bedroom window 
in the dark of the night. 

"He is a strict teetotaller," said Mrs. 
Podmarsh. 

"Really?" 

"And has never smoked in his life," 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 185 

"Fancy that!" 

*'But here is the dear boy now," said 
Mrs. Podmarsh, fondly. 

Down the road towards them was coming 
a tall, well-knit figure in a Norfolk coat 
and grey flannel trousers. Over his broad 
shoulders was suspended a bag of golf-clubs. 

"Is that Mr. Podmarsh?" exclaimed Mary. 

She was surprised. After all she had 
been listening to about the arrowroot and 
the flannel next the skin and the rest of it, 
she had pictured the son of the house as a 
far weedier specimen. She had been ex- 
pecting to meet a small, slender young man 
with an eyebrow moustache, and pince-nez ; 
and this person approaching might have 
stepped straight out of Jack Dempsey's 
training-camp. 

"Does he play golf?" asked Mary, herself 
an enthusiast. 

"Oh yes," said Mrs. Podmarsh. "He 
makes a point of going out on the links 
once a day. He says the fresh air gives him 
such an appetite." 

Mary, who had taken a violent dislike 
to Rollo on the evidence of his mother's 
description of his habits, had softened 
towards him on discovering that he was a 
golfer. She now reverted to her previous 
opinion. A man who could play the noble 
game from such ignoble motives was beyond 
the pale. 



i86 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

*'Rollo is exceedingly good at golf," 
proceeded Mrs. Podmarsh. "He scores 
more than a hundred and twenty every 
time, while Mr. Burns, who is supposed 
to be one of the best players in the club, 
seldom manages to reach eighty. But Rollo 
is very modest — modesty is one of his best 
qualities — and you would never guess he 
was so skilful unless you were told." 

"Well, Rollo darling, did you have a nice 
game? You didn't get your feet wet, I 
hope ? This is Mary Kent, dear." 

Rollo Podmarsh shook hands with Mary. 
And at her touch the strange dizzy feeling 
which had come over him at the sight of her 
suddenly became increased a thousand-fold. 
As I see that you are consulting your watch 
once more, I will not describe his emotions 
as exhaustively as I might. I will merely 
say that he had never felt anything resembling 
this sensation of dazed ecstasy since the 
occasion when a twenty-foot putt of his, 
which had been going well off the line, as his 
putts generally did, had hit a worm-cast 
sou' -sou' -east of the hole and popped in, 
giving him a snappy six. Rollo Podmarsh, 
as you will have divined, was in love at 
first sight. Which makes it all the sadder 
to think Mary at the moment was regarding 
him as an outcast and a blister. 

Mrs. Podmarsh, having enfolded her son 
in a vehement embrace, drew back with a 
startled exclamation, sniffing. 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 187 

"Rollo!" she cried. "You smeU of 
tobacco-smoke." 

Rollo looked embarrassed. 

"Well, the fact is, mother " 

A hard protuberance in his coat-pocket 
attracted Mrs. Podmarsh's notice. She 
swooped and drew out a big-bowled pipe. 

"Rollo!" she exclaimed, aghast. 

"Well, the fact is, mother '* 

"Don't you know," cried Mrs. Podmarsh, 
"that smoking is poisonous, and injurious 
to the health?" 

"Yes. But the fact is, mother " 

"It causes nervous dyspepsia, sleepless- 
ness, gnawing of the stomach, headache, weak 
eyes, red spots on the skin, throat irrita- 
tion, asthma, bronchitis, heart failure, lung 
trouble, catarrh, melancholy, neurasthenia, 
loss of memory, impaired will-power, rheuma- 
tism, lumbago, sciatica, neuritis, heartburn, 
torpid liver, loss of appetite, enervation, 
lassitude, lack of ambition, and falling out 
of hair." 

"Yes, I know, mother. But the fact is, 
Ted Ray smokes all the time he's play- 
ing, and I thought it might improve my 
game." 

And it was at these splendid words that 
Mary Kent felt for the first time that some- 
thing might be made of Rollo Podmarsh. 
That she experienced one-millionth of the 
fervour which was gnawing at his vitals 
I will not say. A woman does not fall in 



i88 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

love in a flash like a man. But at least 
she no longer regarded him with loathing. 
On the contrary, she found herself liking 
him. There was, she considered, the right 
stuff in Rollo. And if, as seemed probable 
from his mother's conversation, it would 
take a bit of digging to bring it up, well 
— she Hked rescue- work and had plenty of 
time. 

Mr. Arnold Bennett, in a recent essay, 
advises young bachelors to proceed with a 
certain caution in matters of the heart. 
They should, he asserts, first decide whether 
or not they are ready for love; then, 
whether it is better to marry earlier or later ; 
thirdly, whether their ambitions are such 
that a wife will prove a hindrance to their 
career. These romantic preliminaries con- 
cluded, they may grab a girl and go to it. 
Rollo Podmarsh would have made a tough 
audience for these precepts. Since the days 
of Antony and Cleopatra probably no one 
had ever got more swiftly off the mark. 
One may say that he was in love before he 
had come within two yards of the girl. 
And each day that passed found him more 
nearly up to his eyebrows in the tender 
emotion. 

^ He thought of Mary when he was changing 
his wet shoes; he dreamed of her while 
putting flannel next his skin; he yearned 
for her over the evening arrowroot. Why, 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 189 

the man was such a slave to his devotion 
that he actually went to the length of pur- 
loining small articles belonging to her. Two 
days after Mary's arrival Rollo Podmarsh 
was driving off the first tee with one of 
her handkerchiefs, a powder-puff, and a 
dozen hairpins secreted in his left breast- 
pocket. When dressing for dinner he used 
to take them out and look at them, and at 
night he slept with them under his pillow. 
Heavens, how he loved that girl! 

One evening when they had gone out 
into the garden together to look at the new 
room — Rollo, by his mother's advice, wear- 
ing a woollen scarf to protect his throat — 
he endeavoured to bring the conversation 
round to the important subject. Mary's 
last remark had been about earwigs. Con- 
sidered as a cue, it lacked a subtle something ; 
but Rollo was not the man to be discouraged 
by that. 

"Talking of earwigs. Miss Kent," he said, 
in a low musical voice, "have you ever been 
in love? " 

Mary was silent for a moment before 
replying. 

"Yes, once. When I was eleven. With 
a conjurer who came to perform at my 
birthday-party. He took a rabbit and two 
eggs out of my hair, and life seemed one 
grand sweet song." 

"Never since then? " 

"Never." 



igo THE HEART OF A GOOF 

** Suppose — just for the sake of argument 
— suppose you ever did love anyone — er — 
what sort of a man would it be? " 

"A hero," said Mary, promptly. 

"A hero?" said Rollo, somewhat taken 
aback. " What sort of hero? " 

"Any sort. I could only love a really 
brave man — a man who had done some 
wonderful heroic action." 

"Shall we go in?" said Rollo, hoarsely. 
"The air is a little chilly." 

We have now, therefore, arrived at a 
period in Rollo Podmarsh's career which 
might have inspired those lines of Henley's 
about "the night that covers me, black as 
the pit from pole to pole." What with one 
thing and another, he was in an almost 
Job-like condition of despondency. I say 
"one thing and another," for it was not 
only hopeless love that weighed him down. 
In addition to being hopelessly in love, he 
was greatly depressed about his golf. 

On Rollo in his capacity of golfer I have 
so far not dwelt. You have probably allowed 
yourself, in spite of the significant episode 
of the pipe, to dismiss him as one of those 
placid, contented — shall I say dilettante? 
— golfers who are so frequent in these degener- 
ate days. Such was not the case. Out- 
wardly placid, Rollo was consumed inwardly 
by an ever-burning fever of ambition. His 
aims were not extravagant. He did not 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 191 

want to become amateur champion, nor even 
to win a monthly medal ; but he did, with his 
whole soul, desire one of these days to go 
round the course in under a hundred. This 
feat accomplished, it was his intention to set 
the seal on his golfing career by playing a real 
money-match; and already he had selected 
his opponent, a certain Colonel Bodger, 
a tottery performer of advanced years who 
for the last decade had been a martyr to 
lumbago. 

But it began to look as if even the modest 
goal he had marked out for himself were 
beyond his powers. Day after day he would 
step on to the first tee, glowing with 
zeal and hope, only to crawl home in the 
quiet evenfall with another hundred and 
twenty on his card. Little wonder, then, 
that he began to lose his appetite and would 
moan feebly at the sight of a poached egg. 

With Mrs. Podmarsh sedulously watching 
over her son's health, you might have sup- 
posed that this inability on his part to 
teach the foodstuffs to take a joke would 
have caused consternation in the home. 
But it so happened that Rollo's mother had 
recently been reading a medical treatise in 
which an eminent physician stated that we 
all eat too much nowadays, and that the 
secret of a happy life is to lay off the carbo- 
hydrates to some extent. She was, there- 
fore, delighted to observe the young man's 
moderation in the matter of food, and 



192 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

frequently held him up as an example to 
be noted and followed by little Lettice 
Willoughby, her grand-daughter, who was a 
good and consistent trencherwoman, par- 
ticularly rough on the puddings. Little 
Lettice, I should mention, was the daughter 
of Rollo's sister Enid, who lived in the 
neighbourhood. Mrs. Willoughby had been 
compelled to go away on a visit a few days 
before and had left her child with Mrs. 
Podmarsh during her absence. 

You can fool some of the people all the 
time, but Lettice Willoughby was not of the 
type that is easily deceived. A nice, old- 
fashioned child would no doubt have 
accepted without questioning her grand- 
mother's dictum that roly-poly pudding 
could not fail to hand a devastating wallop 
to the blood-pressure, and that to take two 
helpings of it was practically equivalent 
to walking right into the family vault. A 
child with less decided opinions of her own 
would have been impressed by the spectacle 
of her uncle refusing sustenance, and would 
have received without demur the statement 
that he did it because he felt that abstinence 
was good for his health. Lettice was a 
modern child and knew better. She had 
had experience of this loss of appetite and its 
significance. The first symptom which had 
preceded the demise of poor old Ponto, 
who had recently handed in his portfolio 
after holding office for ten years as the 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 193 

Willoiighby family dog, had been this same 
disindination to absorb nourishment. Be- 
sideja, she was an observant child, and had 
not failed to note the haggard misery in her 
uncle's eyes. She tackled him squarely on 
the subject one morning after breakfast. 
Rollo had retired into the more distant parts 
of the garden, and was leaning forward, when 
she found him, with his head buried in his 
hands. 

"Hallo, uncle," said Lettice. 

Rollo looked up wanly. 

"Ah, child!" he said. He was fond of 
his niece. 

"Aren't you feeling well, uncle?'* 

"Far, far from well." 

"It's old age, I expect," said Lettice. 

"I feel old," admitted Rollo. "Old and 
battered. Ah, Lettice, laugh and be gay 
while you can." 

"All right, uncle." 

"Make the most of your happy, careless, 
smiling, halcyon childhood." 

"Right-o, uncle." 

"When you get to my age, dear, you will 
realise that it is a sad, hopeless world. A 
v/orld where, if you keep your head down, 
you forget to let the club-head lead: where 
even if you do happen by a miracle to keep 
'em straight with your brassie, you blow up 
on the green and foozle a six-inch putt." 

Lettice could not quite understand what 
Uncle Rollo was talking about, but she 



194 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

gathered broadly that she had been correct 
in supposing him to be in a bad state, and her 
warm, childish heart was filled with pity 
for him. She walked thoughtfully away, 
and Rollo resumed his reverie. 

Into each life, as the poet says, some rain 
must fall. So much had recently been falling 
into Rollo' s that, when Fortune at last sent 
along a belated sunbeam, it exercised a 
cheering effect out of all proportion to its 
size. By this I mean that when, some four 
days after his conversation with Lettice, 
Mary Kent asked him to play golf with her, 
he read into the invitation a significance 
which only a lover could have seen in it. 
I will not go so far as to say that Rollo 
Podmarsh looked on Mary Kent's suggestion 
that they should have a round together 
as actually tantamount to a revelation of 
undying love; but he certainly regarded 
it as a most encouraging sign. It seemed 
to him that things were beginning to move, 
that Rollo Preferred were on a rising market. 
Gone was the gloom of the past days. He 
forgot those sad, solitary wanderings of his 
in the bushes at the bottom of the garden ; 
he forgot that his mother had bought him a 
new set of winter woollies which felt like 
horsehair; he forgot that for the last few 
evenings his arrowroot had tasted rummy. 
His whole mind was occupied with the as- 
tounding fact that she had voluntarily offered 
to play golf with him, and he walked out 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 195 

on to the first tee filled with a yeasty exhilara- 
tion which nearly caused him to burst 
into song. 

"How shall we play?" asked Mary. "I 
am a twelve. What is your handicap? " 

Rollo was under the disadvantage of not 
actually possessing a handicap. He had 
a sort of private system of book-keeping 
of his own by which he took strokes over 
if they did not seem to him to be up to 
sample, and allowed himself five-foot putts 
at discretion. So he had never actually 
handed in the three cards necessary for 
handicapping purposes. 

"I don't exactly know," he said. "It's 
my ambition to get round in under a 
hundred, but I've never managed it yet." 

"Never?" 

"Never! It's strange, but something al- 
ways seems to go wrong." 

"Perhaps you'U manage it to-day," said 
Mary, encouragingly, so encouragingly that 
it was all that Rollo could do to refrain 
from flinging himself at her feet and barking 
like a dog. "Well, I'll start you two holes 
up, and we'll see how we get on. Shall 
I take the honour? " 

She drove off one of those fair-to-medium 
baUs which go with a twelve handicap. Not 
a great length, but nice and straight. 

"Splendid!" cried Rollo, devoutly. 

"Oh, I don't know," said Mary. "I 
wouldn't call it anything special." 



196 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Titanic emotions were surging in Rollo's 
bosom as he addressed his ball. He had 
never felt like this before, especially on the 
first tee — where as a rule he found himself 
overcome with a nervous humility. 

"Oh, Mary! Mary!" he breathed to him- 
self as he swung. 

You who squander your golden youth 
fooling about on a bowling-green will 
not understand the magic of those three 
words. But if you were a golfer, you would 
realise that in selecting just that invocation 
to breathe co himself Rollo Podmarsh had hit, 
by sheer accident, on the ideal method of 
achieving a fine drive. Let me explain. The 
first two words, tensely breathed, are just 
sufficient to take a man with the proper 
slowness to the top of his swing; the first 
syllable of the second "Mary" exactly 
coincides with the striking of the ball; and 
the final "ry!" takes care of the follow- 
through. The consequence was that Rollo's 
ball, instead of hopping down the hill like 
an embarrassed duck, as was its usual 
practice, sang ofi the tee with a scream like 
a shell, nodded in passing Mary's ball, 
where it lay some hundred and fifty yards 
down the course, and, carrying on from there, 
came to rest within easy distance of the 
green. For the first time in his golfing Hfe 
Rollo Podmarsh had hit a nifty. 

Mary followed the ball's flight with 
astonished eyes. 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 197 

"But this will never do!" she exclaimed. 
"I can't possibly start you two up if you're 
going to do this sort of thing." 

Rollo blushed. 

"I shouldn't think it would happen 
again," he said. "I've never done a drive 
like that before." 

"But it must happen again," said Mary, 
firmly. "This is evidently your day. If you 
don't get round in under a hundred to-day, 
I shall never forgive you." 

Rollo shut his eyes, and his lips moved 
feverishly. He was registering a vow that, 
come what might, he would not fail her. 
A minute later he was holing out in three, 
one under bogey. 

The second hole is the short lake-hole. 
Bogey is three, and Rollo generally did it 
in four; for it was his custom not to count 
any balls he might sink in the water, but 
to start afresh with one which happened 
to get over, and then take three putts. 
But to-day something seemed to tell him 
that he would not require the aid of this 
ingenious system. As he took his mashie 
from the bag, he knew that his first shot 
would soar successfully on to the green. 

"Ah, Mary!" he breathed as he swung. 

These subtleties are wasted on a worm, 
if you will pardon the expression, like your- 
self, who, possibly owing to a defective 
education, is content to spend life's spring- 
time rolling wooden balls across a lawn ; 



igS THE HEART OF A GOOF 

but I will explain that in altering and 
shortening his soliloquy at this juncture 
RoUo had done the very thing any good 
pro. would have recommended. If he had 
murmured, "Oh, Mary! Mary!" as before 
he would have over-swung. "Ah, Mary!" 
was exactly right for a half-swing with the 
mashie. His ball shot up in a beautiful arc, 
and trickled to within six inches of the hole. 

Mary was delighted. There was some- 
thing about this big, diffident man which 
had appealed from the first to everything in 
her that was motherly. 

"Marvellous!" she said. "You'll get a 
two. Five for the first two holes! Why, 
you simply must get round in under a 
hundred now." She swung, but too hghtly; 
and her ball fell in the water. "I'll give you 
this," she said, without the slightest chagrin, 
for this girl had a beautiful nature. "Let's 
get on to the third. Four up ! Why, you're 
wonderful! " 

And not to weary you with too much 
detail, I will simply remark that, stimulated 
by her gentle encouragement, Rollo Pod- 
marsh actually came off the ninth green with 
a medal score of forty-six for the half-round. 
A ten on the seventh had spoiled his card 
to some extent, and a nine on the eighth 
had not helped, but nevertheless here he 
was in forty-six, with the easier half of the 
course before him. He tingled all over — 
partly because he was wearing the new 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 199 

winter woollies to which I have alluded 
previously, but principally owing to triumph, 
elation, and love. He gazed at Mary as 
Dante might have gazed at Beatrice on one 
of his particularly sentimental mornings. 

Mary uttered an exclamation. 

"Oh, I've just remembered," she ex- 
claimed. "I promised to write last night 
to Jane Simpson and give her that new 
formula for knitting jumpers. I think I'll 
'phone her now from the club-house and 
then it'll be off my mind. You go on to the 
tenth, and I'll join you there." 

Rollo proceeded over the brow of the 
hill to the tenth tee, and was filling 
in the time with practice-swings when 
he heard his name spoken. 

"Good gracious, Rollo! I couldn't believe 
it was you at first." 

He turned to see his sister, Mrs. Wil- 
loughby, the mother of the child Lettice. 

"Hallo! "he said. "When did you get back?" 

"Late last night. Why, it's extra- 
ordinar}^ ! " 

" Hope you had a good time. What's extra- 
ordinary? Listen, Enid. Do you know what 
r ve done ? Forty-six for the first nine ! Forty- 
six! And holing out every putt." 

"Oh, then that accounts for it." 

"Accounts for what ?" 

"Why, your looking so pleased with life. 
I got an idea from Letty, when she wrote 

G2 



200 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

to me, that you were at death's door. Your 
gloom seems to have made a deep impression 
on the child. Her letter was full of it." 

RoUo was moved. 

"Dear little Letty! She is wonderfully 
sympathetic." 

"Well, I must be off now," said Enid 
Willoughby. "I'm late. Oh, talking of 
Letty. Don't children say the funniest 
things! She wrote in her letter that you 
were very old and wretched and that she 
was going to put you out of your misery." 

"Ha ha ha! " laughed Rollo. 

"We had to poison poor old Ponto the 
other day, you know, and poor little Letty 
was inconsolable till we explained to her 
that it was really the kindest thing to do, 
because he was so old and ill. But just 
imagine her thinking of wanting to end 
your sufferings ! " 

"Haha!" laughed Rollo. "Hahah !" 

His voice trailed off into a broken gurgle. 
Quite suddenly a sinister thought had come 
to him. 

The arrowroot had, tasted rummy ! 

"Why, what on earth is the matter? " asked 
Mrs. Willoughby, regarding his ashen face. 

Rollo could find no words. He 3^ammered 
speechlessly. Yes, for several nights the 
arrowroot had tasted very rummy. Rummy! 
There was no other adjective. Even as he 
plied the spoon he had said to himself: 
"This arrowroot tastes rummy!" And — 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 201 

he uttered a sharp yelp as he remembered — 
it had been httle Lettice who had brought 
it to him. He recollected being touched at 
the time by the kindly act. 

"What is the matter, Rollo?" demanded 
Mrs. Willoughby, sharply. "Don't stand 
there looking like a dying duck." 

"I am a dying duck," responded Rollo, 
hoarsely. "A dying man, I mean. Enid, 
that infernal child has poisoned me ! " 

"Don't be ridiculous! And kindly don't 
speak of her like that ! " 

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't blame her, I 
suppose. No doubt her motives were good. 
But the fact remains." 

"Rollo, you're too absurd." 

"But the arrowroot tasted rummy." 

"I never knew you could be such an idiot," 
said his exasperated sister with sisterly out- 
spokenness. "I thought you would think 
it quaint. I thought you would roar with 
laughter." 

"I did — till I remembered about the rum- 
miness of the arrowroot." 

Mrs. Willoughby uttered an impatient 
exclamation and walked away. 

Rollo Podmarsh stood on the tenth tee, a 
volcano of mixed emotions. Mechanically 
he pulled out his pipe and lit it. But he 
found that he could not smoke. In this 
supreme crisis of his life tobacco seemed to 
have lost its magic. He put the pipe back 
in his pocket and gave himself up to his 



202 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

thoughts. Now terror gripped him; anon 
a sort of gentle melancholy. It was so hard 
that he should be compelled to leave the 
world just as he had begun to hit 'em right. 

And then in the welter of his thoughts there 
came one of practical value. To wit, that by 
hurrying to the doctor's without delay he might 
yet be saved. There might be antidotes. 

He turned to go and there was Mary 
Kent standing beside him with her bright, 
encouraging smile. 

"I'm sorry I kept you so long," she said. 
"It's your honour. Fire away, and re- 
member that you've got to do this nine in 
fifty-three at the outside." 

RoUo's thoughts flitted wistfully to the 
snug surgery where Dr. Brown was probably 
sitting at this moment surrounded by the 
finest antidotes. 

"Do you know, I think I ought to *' 

"Of course you ought to," said Mary. 
"If you did the first nine in forty-six, you 
can't possibly take fifty- three coming in." 

For one long moment Rollo continued to 
hesitate — a moment during which the instinct 
of self-preservation seemed as if it must win 
the day. All his hfe he had been brought 
up to be nervous about his health, and 
panic gripped him. But there is a deeper, 
nobler instinct than that of self-preserva- 
tion — the instinctive desire of a golfer who 
is at the top of his form to go on and beat 
his medal-score record. And little by little 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 203 

this grand impulse began to dominate Rollo. 
If, he felt, he went off now to take antidotes, 
the doctor might possibly save his life; but 
reason told him that never again would he 
be likely to do the first nine in forty-six. 
He would have to start aU over afresh. 

Rollo Podmarsh hesitated no longer. With 
a pale, set face he teed up his ball and drove. 

If I were telling this story to a golfer 
instead of to an excrescence — I use the 
word in the kindliest spirit — who spends 
his time messing about on a bowling-green, 
nothing would please me better than to 
describe shot by shot Rollo's progress over 
the remaining nine holes. Epics have been 
written with less material. But these details 
would, I am aware, be wasted on you. Let 
it suffice that by the time his last approach 
trickled on to the eighteenth green he had 
taken exactly fifty shots. 

" Three for it ! " said Mary Kent. " Steady 
now! Take it quite easy and be sure to 
lay your second dead." 

It was prudent counsel, but Rollo was 
now thoroughly above himself. He had 
got his feet wet in a puddle on the sixteenth, 
but he did not care. His winter woolhes 
seemed to be lined with ants, but he ignored 
them. All he knew was that he was on the 
last green in ninety-six, and he meant to finish 
in style. No tame three putts for him ! His 
ball was five yards away, but he aimed for 



204 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

the back of the hole and brought his putter 
down with a whack. Straight and true the 
ball sped, hit the tin, jumped high in the air, 
and fell into the hole with a rattle. 

"Oo!" cried Mary. 

Rollo Podmarsh wiped his forehead and 
leaned dizzily on his putter. For a moment 
so intense is the fervour induced by the 
game of games, all he could think of was 
that he had gone round in ninety-seven. 
Then, as one waking from a trance, he 
began to appreciate his position. The fever 
passed, and a clammy dismay took pos- 
session of him. He had achieved his life's 
ambition; but what now? Already he 
was conscious of a curious discomfort within 
him. He felt as he supposed Italians of 
the Middle Ages must have felt after dropping 
in to take pot-luck with the Borgias. It 
was hard. He had gone round in ninety- 
seven, but he could never take the next 
step in the career which he had mapped out 
in his dreams — the money-match with the 
lumbago-stricken Colonel Bodger. 

Mary Kent was fluttering round him, 
bubbling congratulations, but Rollo sighed. 

"Thanks," he said. "Thanks very much. 
But the trouble is, I'm afraid I'm going to die 
almost immediately. I've been poisoned!" 

"Poisoned!" 

"Yes. Nobody is to blame. Everything 
was done with the best intentions. But 
there it is." 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 205 

"But I don't understand." 

Rollo explained. Mary listened pallidly. 

"Are you sure?" she gasped. 

"Quite sure," said Rollo, gravely. "The 
arrowroot tasted rummy." 

"But arrowroot always does." 

Rollo shook his head. 

"No," he said. "It tastes like warm 
blotting-paper, but not rummy." 

Mary was sniffing. 

"Don't cry," urged Rollo, tenderly. "Don't 
cry." 

"But I must. And I've come out without 
a handkerchief." 

"Permit me," said Rollo, producing one 
of her best from his left breast-pocket. 

"I wish I had a powder-puff," said Mary. 

"Allow me," said Rollo. "And your hair 

has become a little disordered. If I may " 

And from the same reservoir he drew a hand- 
ful of hairpins. 

Mary gazed at these exhibits with aston- 
ishment. 

"But these are mine," she said. 

"Yes. I sneaked them from time to 
time." 

"But why?" 

"Because I loved you," said Rollo. And 
in a few moving sentences which I will not 
trouble you with he went on to elaborate 
this theme. 

Mary listened with her heart full of surging 
emotions, which I cannot possibly go into 



206 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

if you persist in looking at that damned 
watch of yours. The scales had fallen from 
her eyes. She had thought slightingly of 
this man because he had been a little over- 
careful of his health, and all the time he had 
had within him the potentiality of heroism. 
Something seemed to snap inside her. 

"RoUo!" she cried, and flung herself into 
his arms. 

"Mary ! " muttered Rollo, gathering her up. 

"I told you it was all nonsense," said 
Mrs. Willoughby, coming up at this tense 
moment and going on with the conversation 
where she had left off. "I've just seen 
Letty, and she said she meant to put you 
out of your misery but the chemist wouldn't 
sell her any poison, so she let it go." 

Rollo disentangled himself from Mary. 

"What?" he cried. 

Mrs. Willoughby repeated her remarks. 

"You're sure?" he said. 

"Of course I'm sure." 

"Then why did the arrowroot taste 
rummy? " 

"I made inquiries about that. It seems 
that mother was worried about your taking 
to smoking, and she found an advertise- 
ment in one of the magazines about the 
Tobacco Habit Cured in Three Days by a 
secret method without the victim's know- 
ledge. It was a gentle, safe, agreeable 
method of eliminating the nicotine poison 
from the system, strengthening the weakened 



AWAKENING OF PODMARSH 207 

membranes, and overcoming the craving; 
so she put some in your arrowroot every 
night." 

There was a long silence. To Rollo Pod- 
marsh it seemed as though the sun had 
suddenly begun to shine, the birds to sing, 
and the grasshoppers to toot. All Nature 
was one vast substantial smile. Down in 
the valley by the second hole he caught 
sight of Wallace Chesney's Plus Fours 
gleaming as their owner stooped to play 
his shot, and it seemed to him that he had 
never in his life seen anything so lovely. 

"Mary," he said, in a low, vibrant voice, 
"will you wait here for me? I want to 
go into the club-house for a moment." 

"To change your wet shoes?" 

" No ! " thundered Rollo. " Fm never going 
to change my wet shoes again in my 
life." He felt in his pocket, and hurled a 
box of patent pills far into the undergrowth. 
"But I am going to change my winter 
woollies. And when I've put those dashed 
barbed-wire entanglements into the club- 
house furnace, Fm going to 'phone to old 
Colonel Bodger. I hear his lumbago's worse 
than ever. Fm going to fix up a match 
with him for a shilling a hole. And if I 
don't lick the boots off him you can break 
the engagement ! " 

"My hero!" murmured Mary. 

Rollo kissed her, and with long, resolute 
steps strode to the club-house. 



CHAPTER Vir 

RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 

THERE was a sound of revelry by 
night, for the first Saturday in June 
had arrived and the Golf Club was 
holding its monthly dance. Fairy lanterns 
festooned the branches of the chestnut trees 
on the terrace above the ninth green, and 
from the big dining-room, cleared now of its 
tables and chairs, came a muffled slithering 
of feet and the plaintive sound of saxophones 
moaning softly like a man who has just 
missed a short putt. In a basket-chair in the 
shadows, the Oldest Member puffed a cigar 
and listened, well content. His was the 
peace of the man who has reached the age 
when he is no longer expected to dance. 

A door opened, and a young man came 
out of the club-house. He stood on the 
steps with folded arms, gazing to left and 
right. The Oldest Member, watching him 
from the darkness, noted that he wore 
an air of gloom. His brow was furrowed 
and he had the indefinable look of one 

208 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 209 

who has been smitten in the spiritual solar 
plexus. 

Yes, where all around him was joy, joUity, 
and song, this young man brooded. 

The sound of a high tenor voice, talking 
rapidly and entertainingly on the subject 
of modern Russian thought, now intruded 
itself on the peace of the night. From the 
farther end of the terrace a girl came into 
the light of the lantern, her arm in that of 
a second young man. She was small and 
pretty, he tall and intellectual. The light 
shone on his high forehead and glittered on 
his tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles. The girl 
was gazing up at him with reverence and 
adoration, and at the sight of these twain 
the youth on the steps appeared to undergo 
some sort of spasm. His face became con- 
torted and he wobbled. Then, with a gesture 
of sublime despair, he tripped over the mat 
and stumbled back into the club-house. The 
couple passed on and disappeared, and the 
Oldest Member had the night to himself, 
until the door opened once more and the 
club's courteous and efficient secretary trotted 
down the steps. The scent of the cigar drew 
him to where the Oldest Member sat, and 
he dropped into the chair beside him. 

"Seen young Ramage to-night?" asked 
the secretary. 

"He was standing on those steps only a 
moment ago," replied the Oldest Member. 
"Why do you ask?" 



210 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"I thought perhaps you might have had 
a talk with him and found out what's the 
matter. Can't think what's come to him 
to-night. Nice, civil boy as a rule, but just 
now, when I was trying to tell him about 
my short approach on the fifth this afternoon, 
he was positively abrupt. Gave a sort of 
hollow gasp and dashed away in the middle 
of a sentence." 

The Oldest Member sighed. 

"You must overlook his brusqueness," 
he said. "The poor lad is passing through 
a trying time. A short while back I was 
the spectator of a little drama that explains 
everything. Mabel Patmore is flirting dis- 
gracefully with that young fellow Purvis." 

" Purvis? Oh, you mean the man who won 
the club Bowls Championship last week? " 

"I can quite believe that he may have dis- 
graced himself in the manner you describe,'* 
said the Sage, coldly. " I know he plays 
that noxious game. And it is for that 
reason that I hate to see a nice girl like 
Mabel Patmore, who only needs a little 
more steadiness off the tee to become a very 
fair golfer, wasting her time on him. I sup- 
pose his attraction lies in the fact that he 
has a great flow of conversation, while poor 
Ramage is, one must admit, more or less of 
a dumb Isaac. Girls are too often snared 
by a glib tongue. Still, it is a pity, a great 
pity. The whole affair recalls irresistibly to 
my mind the story " 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 211 

The secretary rose with a whirr Hke a 
rocketing pheasant. 

" the story," continued the Sage, "of 

Jane Packard, WiUiam Bates, and Rodney 
Spelvin — which, as you have never heard it, 
I will now proceed to relate." 

"Can't stop now, much as I should 
like " 

"It is a theory of mine," proceeded the 
Oldest Member, attaching himself to the 
other's coat-tails, and puUing him gently 
back into his seat, "that nothing but misery 
can come of the union between a golfer and 
an outcast whose soul has not been purified 
by the noblest of games. This is well exem- 
plified by the story of Jane Packard, William 
Bates, and Rodney Spelvin." 

"All sorts of things to look after " 

"That is why I am hoping so sincerely 
that there is nothing more serious than a 
temporary flirtation in this business of Mabel 
Patmore and bowls-playing Purvis. A girl 
in whose life golf has become a factor, would 
be mad to trust her happiness to a blister 
whose idea of enjoyment is trundling wooden 
balls across a lawn. Sooner or later he is 
certain to fail her in some crisis. Lucky for 
her if this failure occurs before the marriage 
knot has been inextricably tied and so opens 
her eyes to his inadequacy — as was the case 
in the matter of Jane Packard, William 
Bates, and Rodney Spelvin. I will now," 
said the Oldest Member, "tell you all about 



212 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Jane Packard, William Bates, and Rodney 
Spelvin." 

The secretary uttered a choking groan. 

"I shall miss the next dance," he pleaded. 

*'A bit of luck for some nice girl," said 
the Sage, equably. 

He tightened his grip on the other's arm. 

Jane Packard and William Bates (said 
the Oldest Member) were not, you must 
understand, officially engaged. They had 
grown up together from childhood, and there 
existed between them a sort of understand- 
ing — the understanding being that, if ever 
William could speed himself up enough to 
propose, Jane would accept him, and they 
would settle down and live . stodgily and 
happily ever after. For William was not one 
of your rapid wooers. In his affair of the heart 
he moved somewhat slowly and ponderously, 
like a motor-lorry, an object which both 
in physique and temperament he greatly 
resembled. He was an extraordinarily large, 
powerful, ox-like young man, who required 
plenty of time to make up his mind about 
any given problem. I have seen him in the 
club dining-room musing with a thoughtful 
frown for fifteen minutes on end while 
endeavouring to weigh the rival merits of a 
chump chop and a sirloin steak as a luncheon 
dish. A placid, leisurely man, I might almost 
call him lymphatic. I will call him lymphatic. 
He was lymphatic. 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 213 

The first glimmering of an idea that Jane 
might possibly be a suitable wife for him 
had come to William some three years 
before this story opens. Having brooded on 
the matter tensely for six months, he then 
sent her a bunch of roses. In the October 
of the following year, nothing having 
occurred to alter his growing conviction that 
she was an attractive girl, he presented her 
with a two-pound box of assorted chocolates. 
And from then on his progress, though not 
rapid, was continuous, and there seemed 
little reason to doubt that, should nothing 
come about to weaken Jane's regard for him, 
another five years or so would see the matter 
settled. 

And it did not appear likely that any- 
thing would weaken Jane's regard. They 
had much in common, for she was a calm, 
slow-moving person, too. They had a 
mutual devotion to golf, and played to- 
gether every day; and the fact that their 
handicaps were practically level formed a 
strong bond. Most divorces, as you know, 
spring from the fact that the husband is 
too markedly superior to his wife at golf; 
this leading him, when she starts criticising 
his relations, to say bitter and unforgivable 
things about her mashie-shots. Nothing of 
this kind could happen with William and 
Jane. They would build their life on a 
solid foundation of sympathy and under- 
standing. The years would find them 



214 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

consoling and encouraging each other, happy 
married lovers. If, that is to say, William 
ever got round to proposing. 

It was not until the fourth year of this 
romance that I detected the first sign of any 
alteration in the schedule. I had happened 
to call on the Packards one afternoon and 
found them all out except Jane. She gave 
me tea and conversed for a while, but she 
seemed distrait. I had known her since she 
wore rompers, so felt entitled to ask if there 
was anything wrong. 

"Not exactly wrong," said Jane, and she 
heaved a sigh. 

"Tell me," I said. 

She heaved another sigh. 

"Have you ever read The Love that 
Scorches, by Luella Periton Phipps? " she 
asked. 

I said I had not. 

"I got it out of the library yesterday," 
said Jane, dreamily, "and finished it at 
three this morning in bed. It is a very, 
very beautiful book. It is all about the 
desert and people riding on camels and a 
wonderful Arab chief with stern, yet tender, 
eyes, and a girl called Angela, and oases and 
dates and mirages, and all like that. There 
is a chapter where the Arab chief seizes the 
girl and clasps her in his arms and she feels 
his hot breath searing her face and he flings 
her on his horse and they ride off and all 
around was sand and night, and the mys- 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 215 

terious stars. And somehow — oh, I don't 
know " 

She gazed yearningly at the chandeher. 

"I wish mother would take me to Algiers 
next winter," she murmured, absently. 
"It would do her rheumatism so much 
good." 

I went away frankly uneasy. These 
novelists, I felt, ought to be more careful. 
They put ideas into girls' heads and made 
them dissatisfied. I determined to look 
William up and give him a kindly word of 
advice. It was no business of mine, you 
may say, but they were so ideally suited to 
one another that it seemed a tragedy that 
anything should come between them. And 
Jane was in a strange mood. At any moment, 
I felt, she might take a good, square look at 
William and wonder what she could ever 
have seen in him. I hurried to the boy's 
cottage. 

"William," I said, "as one who dandled 
you on his knee when you were a baby, I 
wish to ask you a personal question. Answer 
me this, and make it snappy. Do you love 
Jane Packard? " 

A look of surprise came into his face, 
followed by one of intense thought. He 
was silent for a space. 

"Who, me?"' he said at length. 

"Yes, you." 

"Jane Packard?" 

"Yes, Jane Packard." 



2i6 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Do I love Jane Packard?'" said Wil- 
liam, assembling the material and arranging 
it neatly in his mind. 

He pondered for perhaps five minutes. 

"Why, of course I do," he said. 

"Splendid!" 

" Devotedly, dash it ! " 

"Capital!" 

"You might say madly." 

I tapped him on his barrel-like chest. 

"Then my advice to you, William Bates, 
is to tell her so." 

"Now that's rather a brainy scheme," 
said William, looking at me admiringly. 
"I see exactly what you're driving at. 
You mean it would kind of settle things, 
and all that? " 

"Precisely." 

"Well, I've got to go away for a couple 
of days to-morrow — it's the Invitation 
Tournament at Squashy Hollow — but I'll 
be back on Wednesday. Suppose I take 
her out on the links on Wednesday and 
propose? " 

"A very good idea." 

"At the sixth hole, say?" 

"At the sixth hole would do excellently." 

"Or the seventh?" 

"The sixth would be better. The ground 
slopes from the tee, and you would be hidden 
from view by the dog-leg turn." 

"Something in that." 

"My own suggestion would be that you 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 217 

somehow contrive to lead her into that 
large bunker to the left of the sixth fair- 
way." 

"Why?" 

'*I have reason to believe that Jane 
would respond more readily to your wooing 
were it conducted in some vast sandy waste. 
And there is another thing," I proceeded, 
earnestly, " which I must impress upon 
you. See that there is nothing tame or 
tepid about your behaviour when you 
propose. You must show zip and romance. 
In fact, I strongly recommend you, before 
you even say a word to her, to seize her and 
clasp her in your arms and let your hot 
breath sear her face." 

'Who, me?" said William. 
Believe me, it is what will appeal to her 
most." 

"But, I say! Hot breath, I mean! Dash 
it all, you know, what? " 

"I assure you it is indispensable." 

"Seize her?" said WiUiam blankly. 
Precisely." 

Clasp her in my arms? " 
Just so." 

William plunged into silent thought once 
more. 

"Well, you know, I suppose," he said at 
length. "You've had experience, I take 

it. Still Oh, all right, I'U have a stab 

at it." 

'There spoke the true William Bates!" 









(< ' 



2i8 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

I said. "Go to it, lad, and Heaven speed 
your wooing ! " 

In all human schemes — and it is this that 
so often brings failure to the subtlest strate- 
gists — there is always the chance of the 
Unknown Factor popping up, that unfore- 
seen X for which we have made no allow- 
ance and which throws our whole plan of 
campaign out of gear. I had not anticipated 
anything of the kind coming along to mar 
the arrangements on the present occasion; 
but when I reached the first tee on the 
Wednesday afternoon to give William Bates 
that last word of encouragement, which means 
so much, I saw that I had been too sanguine. 
William had not yet arrived, but Jane was 
there, and with her a tall, slim, dark-haired, 
sickeningly romantic-looking youth in fault- 
lessly fitting serge. A stranger to me. He 
was talking to her in a musical undertone, and 
she seemed to be hanging on his words. Her 
beautiful eyes were fixed on his face, and her 
lips slightly parted. So absorbed was she 
that it was not until I spoke that she became 
aware of my presence. 

"William not arrived yet?" 

She turned with a start. 

"William? Hasn't he? Oh! No, not 
yet. I don't suppose he will be long. I want 
to introduce you to Mr. Spelvin. He has 
come to stay with the Wyndhams for a few 
weeks. He is going to walk round with us." 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 219 

Naturally this information came as a 
shock to me, but I masked my feelings and 
greeted the young man with a well-assumed 
cordiality. 

"Mr. George Spelvin, the actor?" I asked, 
shaking hands. 

"My cousin," he said. "My name is 
Rodney Spelvin. I do not share George's 
histrionic ambitions. If I have any claim 
to — may I say renown? — it is as a maker 
of harmonies." 

"A composer, eh?" 

"Verbal harmonies," explained Mr. Spel- 
vin. "I am, in my humble fashion, a 
poet." 

"He writes the most beautiful poetry," 
said Jane, warmly. "He has just been 
reciting some of it to me." 
- "Oh, that httle thing?" said Mr. Spelvin, 
deprecatingly. "A mere morceau. One of 
my juvenilia." 

"It was too beautiful for words," persisted 
Jane. 

"Ah, 3^ou," said Mr. Spelvin, "have the 
soul to appreciate it. I could wish that 
there were more like you. Miss Packard. 
We singers have much to put up with in a 
crass and materialistic world. Only last 
week a man, a coarse editor, asked me 
what my sonnet, * Wine of Desire,* meant.'* 
He laughed indulgently. "I gave him 
answer, 'twas a sonnet, not a mining pros- 
pectus." 



220 THE HEART OF A GOOF 



<( 



It would have served him right," said 
Jane, heatedly, "if you had pasted him one 
on the nose ! " 

At this point a low whistle behind me 
attracted my attention, and I turned to 
perceive William Bates towering against the 
sky-line. 

"Hoy!" said William. 

I walked to where he stood, leaving Jane 
and Mr. Spelvin in earnest conversation with 
their heads close together. 

"I say," said Wilham, in a rumbling 
undertone, "who's the bird with Jane?" 

"A man named Spelvin. He is visiting 
the Wyndhams. I suppose Mrs. Wyndham 
made them acquainted." 

"Looks a bit of a Gawd-help-us," said 
William critically. 

"He is going to walk round with you." 

It was impossible for a man of William 
Bates's temperament to start, but his face 
took on a look of faint concern. 

"Walk round with us?" 

"So Jane said." 

"But look here," said William. "I can't 
possibly seize her and clasp her in my arms 
and do all that hot-breath stuff with this 
pie-faced exhibit hanging round on the out- 
skirts." 

"No, I fear not." 

"Postpone it, then, what?" said William, 
with unmistakable relief. "Well, as a 
matter of fact, it's probably a good thing. 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 221 

There was a most extraordinarily fine steak- 
and-kidney pudding at lunch, and, between 
ourselves, I'm not feeling what you might 
call keyed up to anything in the nature of a 
romantic scene. Some other time, eh? " 

I looked at Jane and the Spelvin youth, 
and a nameless apprehension swept over 
me. There was something in their attitude 
which I found alarming. I was just about 
to whisper a warning to William not to treat 
this new arrival too lightly, when Jane 
caught sight of him and called him over and 
a moment later they set out on their round. 

I walked away pensively. This Spelvin's 
advent, coming immediately on top of that 
book of desert love, was undeniably sinister. 
My heart sank for William, and I waited at 
the club-house to have a word with him, after 
his match. He came in two hours later, 
flushed and jubilant. 

"Played the game of my life!" he said. 
"We didn't hole out all the putts, but, 
making allowance for everything, you can 
chalk me up an eighty-three. Not so bad, 
eh? You know the eighth hole? Well, I 
was a bit short with my drive, and found 
my ball lying badly for the brassy, so I 
took my driving-iron and with a nice easy 
swing let the pill have it so squarely on the 
seat of the pants that it flew " 

"Where is Jane?" I interrupted. 

"Jane? Oh, the bloke Spelvin has taken 
her home." 



222 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Beware of him, William!'* I whispered, 
tensely. "Have a care, young Bates! If 
you don't look out, you'll have him stealing 
Jane from you. Don't laugh. Remember 
that I saw them together before you arrived. 
She was gazing into his eyes as a desert 
maiden might gaze into the eyes of a sheik. 
You don't seem to realise, wretched William 
Bates, that Jane is an extremely romantic 
girl. A fascinating stranger like this, coming 
suddenly into her life, may well snatch her 
away from you before you know where you 
are. 

"That's all right," said William, lightly. 
"I don't mind admitting that the same idea 
occurred to me. But I made judicious 
inquiries on the way round, and found 
out that the fellow's a poet. You don't 
seriously expect me to believe that there's 
any chance of Jane falling in love with a 
poet? " 

He spoke incredulously, for there were 
three things in the world that he held in the 
smallest esteem — slugs, poets, and caddies 
with hiccups. 

"I think it extremely possible, if not 
probable," I rephed. 

"Nonsense!" said William. "And, be- 
sides, the man doesn't play golf. Never had 
a club in his hand, and says he never wants 
to. That's the sort of fellow he is." 

At this, I confess, I did experience a 
distinct feeling of rehef. I could imagine 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 223 

Jane Packard, stimulated by exotic litera- 
ture, committing many follies, but I was 
compelled to own that I could not conceive 
of her giving her heart to one who not 
only did not play golf but had no desire to 
play it. Such a man, to a girl of her fine 
nature and correct upbringing, would be 
beyond the pale. I walked home with 
William in a calm and happy frame of 
mind. 

I was to learn but one short week later 
that Woman is the unfathomable, incal- 
culable mystery, the problem we men can 
never hope to solve. 

The week that followed was one of much 
festivity in our village. There were dances, 
picnics, bathing-parties, and all the other 
adjuncts of high summer. In these Wil- 
liam Bates played but a minor part. Danc- 
ing was not one of his gifts. He swung, 
if called upon, an amiable shoe, but the 
disposition in the neighbourhood was to 
refrain from calling upon him ; for he had 
an incurable habit of coming down with his 
full weight upon his partner's toes, and many 
a fair girl had had to lie up for a couple 
of days after collaborating with him in a 
fox-trot. 

Picnics, again, bored him, and he always 
preferred a round on the links to the merriest 
bathing-party. The consequence was that 
he kept practically aloof from the revels, 



224 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

and all through the week Jane Packard was 
squired by Rodney Spelvin. With Spelvin 
she swayed over the waxed floor; with 
Spelvin she dived and swam; and it was 
Spelvin who, with zealous hand, brushed 
ants off her mayonnaise and squashed 
wasps with a chivalrous teaspoon. The 
end was inevitable. Apart from anything 
else, the moon was at its full and many of 
these picnics were held at night. And you 
know what that means. It was about ten 
days later that William Bates came to me 
in my little garden with an expression on 
his face like a man who didn't know it was 
loaded. 

"I say," said William, "you busy?" 

I emptied the remainder of the water- 
can on the lobelias, and was at his disposal. 

"I say," said William, "rather a rotten 
thing has happened. You know Jane? " 

I said I knew Jane. 

"You know Spelvin?" 

I said I knew Spelvin. 

"Well, Jane's gone and got engaged to 
him," said William, aggrieved. 

"What?" 

"It's a fact." 

"Already?" 

"Absolutely. She told me this morning. 
And what I want to know," said the stricken 
boy, sitting down thoroughly unnerved on a 
basket of strawberries, "is, where do I get 
off?" 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 225 

My heart bled for him, but I could not 
help reminding him that I had anticipated 
this. 

"You should not have left them so much 
alone together," I said. "You must have 
known that there is nothing more conducive 
to love than the moon in June. Why, songs 
have been written about it. In fact, I cannot 
at the moment recall a song that has not been 
written about it." 

"Yes, but how was I to guess that 
anything hke this would happen?" cried 
William, rising and scraping strawberries off 
his person. "Who would ever have sup- 
posed Jane Packard would leap off the dock 
with a fellow who doesn't play golf? " 

"Certainly, as you say, it seems almost 
incredible. You are sure you heard her 
correctly? When she told you about the 
engagement, I mean. There was no chance 
that you could have misunderstood? " 

"Not a bit of it. As a matter of fact, what 
led up to the thing, if you know what I 
mean, was me proposing to her myself. 
I'd been thinking a lot during the last ten 
days over what you said to me about that, 
and the more I thought of it the more of a 
sound egg the notion seemed. So I got her 
alone up at the club-house and said, ' I 
say, old girl, what about it?' and she 
said, 'What about what?' and I said, 
' What about marrying me? Don't if 
you don't want to, of course,' I said, 'but 



226 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

I'm bound to say it looks pretty good to 
me.' And then she said she loved another 
— this bloke Spelvin, to wit. A nasty jar, 
I can tell you, it was. I was just starting 
off on a round, and it made me hook my 
putts on every green." 

"But did she say specifically that she 
was engaged to Spelvin? " 

"She said she loved him." 

"There may be hope. If she is not irre- 
vocably engaged the fancy may pass. I 
think I will go and see Jane and make tact- 
ful inquiries." 

"I wish you would," said WilUam. 
"And, I say, you haven't any stuff that'll 
take strawberry- juice off a fellow's trousers, 
have you? " 

My interview with Jane that evening 
served only to confirm the bad news. Yes, 
she was definitely engaged to the man 
Spelvin. In a burst of girlish confidence she 
told me some of the details of the affair. 

"The moon was shining and a soft breeze 
played in the trees," she said. "And sud- 
denly he took me in his arms, gazed deep into 
my eyes, and cried, * I love you! I worship 
you! I adore you! You are the tree on 
which the fruit of my life hangs ; my mate ; 
my woman; predestined to me since the 
first star shone up in yonder sky !'" 

"Nothing," I agreed, "could be fairer 
than that. And then?" I said, thinking 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 227 

how different it all must have been from 
William Bates's miserable, limping pro- 
posal. 

"Then we fixed it up that we would get 
married in September." 

"You are sure you are doing wisely?" I 
ventured. 

Her eyes opened. 

"Why do you say that?" 

"Well, you know, whatever his other 
merits — and no doubt they are numerous 
— Rodney Spelvin does not play golf." 

"No, but he's very broad-minded about 
it." 

I shuddered. Women say these thmgs so 
lightly. 

"Broad-minded?" 

"Yes. He has no objection to my going 
on playing. He says he likes my pretty 
enthusiasms." 

There seemed nothing more to say on that 
subject. 

"Well," I said, "I am sure I wish you 
every happiness. I had hoped, of course — 
but never mind that." 

"What?" 

"I had hoped, as you insist on my saying 
it, that you and William Bates " 

A shadow passed over her face. Her eyes 
grew sad. 

"Poor William! I'm awfully sorry about 
that. He's a dear." 

A splendid fellow," I agreed. 



(< 



228 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"He has been so wonderful about the 
whole thing. So many men would have 
gone off and shot grizzly bears or something. 
But William just said ' Right-o!' in a quiet 
voice, and he's going to caddy for me at 
Mossy Heath next week." 

"There is good stuff in the boy." 

"Yes." She sighed. "If it wasn't for 
Rodney Oh, well!" 

I thought it would be tactful to change 
the subject. 

"So you have decided to go to Mossy 
Heath again? " 

"Yes. And I'm really going to qualify 
this year. 



}> 



The annual Invitation Tournament at 
Mossy Heath was one of the most import- 
ant fixtures of our local female golfing year. 
As is usual with these affairs, it began with 
a medal-play qualifying round, the thirty- 
two players with the lowest net scores then 
proceeding to fight it out during the remainder 
of the week by match-play. It gratified me 
to hear Jane speak so confidently of her 
chances, for this was the fourth year 
she had entered, and each time, though 
she had started out with the brightest 
prospects, she had failed to survive the 
qualifying round. Like so many golfers, she 
was fifty per cent, better at match-play 
than at medal-play. Mossy Heath, being 
a championship course, is full of nasty 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 229 

pitfalls, and on each of the three occasions 
on which she had tackled it one very bad 
hole had undone all her steady work on the 
other seventeen and ruined her card. I was 
delighted to find her so undismayed by failure. 

"I am sure you will," I said. "Just play 
your usual careful game." 

"It doesn't matter what sort of a game 
I play this time," said Jane, jubilantly. 
"I've just heard that there are only thirty- 
two entries this year, so that everybody 
who finishes is bound to qualify. I have 
simply got to get round somehow, and there 
I am." 

"It would seem somewhat superfluous in 
these circumstances to play a qualifying 
round at all." 

"Oh, but they must. You see, there are 
prizes for the best three scores, so they 
have to play it. But isn't it a relief to 
know that, even if I come to grief on that 
beastly seventh, as I did last year, I shall 
still be all right?" 

"It is, indeed. I have a feeling that once 
it becomes a matter of match-play you will 
be irresistible." 

"I do hope so. It would be lovely to 
win with Rodney looking on." 

"Will he be looking on?" 

"Yes. He's going to walk round with 
me. Isn't it sweet of him? " 

Her fiance's name having slid into the 
conversation again, she seemed inclined to 



230 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

become eloquent about him. I left her, 
however, before she could begin. To one 
so strongly pro- William as myself, eulogistic 
prattle about Rodney Spelvin was repugnant. 
I disapproved entirely of this infatuation of 
hers. I am not a narrow-minded man ; I 
quite appreciate the fact that non-golfers 
are entitled to marry; but I could not 
countenance their marrying potential winners 
of the Ladies' Invitation Tournament at 
Mossy Heath. 

The Greens Committee, as greens com- 
mittees are so apt to do in order to justify 
their existence, have altered the Mossy 
Heath course considerably since the time of 
which I am speaking, but they have left the 
three most poisonous holes untouched. I 
refer to the fourth, the seventh, and the 
fifteenth. Even a soulless Greens Committee 
seems to have realised that golfers, long- 
suffering though they are, can be pushed 
too far, and that the addition of even a 
single extra bunker to any of these dreadful 
places would probably lead to armed riots in 
the club-house. 

Jane Packard had done well on the first 
three holes, but as she stood on the fourth 
tee she was conscious, despite the fact that 
this seemed to be one of her good days, of a 
certain nervousness ; and oddly enough, 
great as was her love for Rodney Spelvin, it 
was not his presence that gave her courage, 
but the sight of William Bates's large. 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 231 

friendly face and the sound of his pleasant 
voice urging her to keep her bean down and 
refrain from pressing. 

As a matter of fact, to be perfectly 
truthful, there was beginning already to 
germinate within her by this time a faint 
but definite regret that Rodney Spelvin 
had decided to accompany her on this 
qualifying round. It was sweet of him to 
bother to come, no doubt, but still there 
was something about Rodney that did not 
seem to blend with the holy atmosphere of a 
championship course. He was the one 
romance of her life and their souls were 
bound together for all eternity, but the fact 
remained that he did not appear to be 
able to keep still while she was making her 
shots, and his light humming, musical 
though it was, militated against accuracy 
on the green. He was humming now as she 
addressed her ball, and for an instant a 
spasm of irritation shot through her. She 
fought it down bravely and concentrated 
on her drive, and when the ball soared 
over the cross-bunker she forgot her annoy- 
ance. There is nothing so mellowing, so 
conducive to sweet and genial thoughts, as 
a real juicy one straight down the middle, 
and this was a pipterino. 

"Nice work," said William Bates, ap- 
provingly. 

Jane gave him a grateful smile and turned 
to Rodney. It was his appreciation that 



H3 



232 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

she wanted. He was not a golfer, but even 
he must be able to see that her drive had 
been something out of the common. 

Rodney Spelvin was standing with his 
back turned, gazing out over the rolling 
prospect, one hand shading his eyes. 

"That vista there," said Rodney. "That 
calm, wooded hollow, bathed in the golden 
sunshine. It reminds me of the island valley 
of Avilion " 

"Did you see my drive, Rodney?'* 

" where falls not rain nor hail nor 

any snow, nor ever wind blows loudly. 
Eh? Your drive? No, I didn't." 

Again Jane Packard was aware of that 
faint, wistful regret. But this was swept 
away a few moments later in the ecstasy of 
a perfect iron-shot which plunked her ball 
nicely on to the green. The last time she 
had played this hole she had taken seven, 
for all round the plateau green are sinister 
sand-bunkers, each beckoning the ball into 
its hideous depths; and now she was on in 
two and life was very sweet. Putting was 
her strong point, so that there was no reason 
why she should not get a snappy four on 
one of the nastiest holes on the course. 
She glowed with a strange emotion as she 
took her putter, and as she bent over her 
ball the air seemed filled with soft music. 

It was only when she started to concen- 
trate on the line of her putt that this soft 
music began to bother her. Then, listening, 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 233 

she became aware that it proceeded from 
Rodney Spelvin. He was standing immedi- 
ately behind her, humming an old French 
love-song. It was the sort of old French 
love-song to which she could have listened 
for hours in some scented garden under the 
young May moon, but on the green of the 
fourth at Mossy Heath it got right in 
amongst her nerve-centres. 

"Rodney, please!'* 

"Eh?" 

Jane found herself wishing that Rodney 
Spelvin would not say "Eh?" whenever 
she spoke to him. 

"Do you mind not humming?" said Jane. 
"I want to putt." 

"Putt on, child, putt on," said Rodney 
Spelvin, indulgently. "I don't know what 
you mean, but, if it makes you happy to 
putt, putt to your heart's content." 

Jane bent over her ball again. She had 
got the line now. She brought back her 
putter with infinite care. 

"My God!" exclaimed Rodney Spelvin, 
going off like a bomb. 

Jane's ball, sharply jabbed, shot past the 
hole and rolled on about three yards. She 
spun round in anguish. Rodney Spelvin was 
pointing at the horizon. 

"What a bit of colour!" he cried. "Did 
you ever see such a bit of colour? " 

"Oh, Rodney!" moaned Jane. 

"Eh?" 



234 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Jane gulped and walked to her ball. Her 
fourth putt trickled into the hole. 

"Did you win?" said Rodney Spelvin, 
amiably. 

Jane walked to the fifth tee in silence. 

The fifth and sixth holes at Mossy Heath 
are long, but they offer little trouble to 
those who are able to keep straight. It is 
as if the architect of the course had relaxed 
over these two in order to ensure that his 
malignant mind should be at its freshest 
and keenest when he came to design the 
pestilential seventh. This seventh, as you 
may remember, is the hole at which Sandy 
McHoots, then Open Champion, took an 
eleven on an important occasion. It is a 
short hole, and a full mashie will take you 
nicely on to the green, provided you can 
carry the river that frolics just beyond the 
tee and seems to plead with you to throw 
it a ball to play with. Once on the green, 
however, the problem is to stay there. The 
green itself is about the size of a drawing- 
room carpet, and in the summer, when the 
ground is hard, a ball that has not the maxi- 
mum of back-spin is apt to touch lightly and 
bound off into the river beyond; for this is 
an island green, where the stream bends like 
a serpent. I refresh your memory with 
these facts in order that you may appre- 
ciate to the full what Jane Packard was 
up against. 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 235 

The woman with whom Jane was part- 
nered had the honour, and drove a nice 
high ball which fell into one of the bunkers 
to the left. She was a silent, patient-looking 
woman, and she seemed to regard this as 
perfectly satisfactory. She withdrew from 
the tee and made way for Jane. 

"Nice work!" said William Bates, a 
moment later. For Jane's ball, soaring in 
a perfect arc, was dropping, it seemed on 
the very pin. 

"Oh, Rodney, look!" cried Jane. 

"Eh?" said Rodney Spelvin. 

His remark was drowned in a passionate 
squeal of agony from his betrothed. The 
most poignant of all tragedies had occurred. 
The ball, touching the green, leaped like a 
young lamb, scuttled past the pin, and took 
a running dive over the cliff. 

There was a silence. Jane's partner, who 
was seated on the bench by the sand-box 
reading a pocket edition in limp leather of 
Vardon's What Every Young Goi/er Should 
Know, with which she had been refreshing 
herself at odd moments all through the 
round, had not observed the incident. 
William Bates, with the tact of a true 
golfer, refrained from comment. Jane was 
herself swallowing painfully. It was left 
to Rodney Spelvin to break the silence. 

"Good! " he said. 

Jane Packard turned like a stepped-on 
worm. 



236 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"What do you mean, good?" 

"You hit your ball farther than she did." 

"I sent it into the river," said Jane, in a 
low, toneless voice. 

"Capital!" said Rodney Spelvin, deli- 
cately masking a yawn with two fingers 
of his shapely right hand. "Capital! Capi- 
tal!" 

Her face contorted with pain, Jane put 
down another ball. 

"Playing three," she said. 

The student of Vardon marked the place 
in her book with her thumb, looked up, 
nodded, and resumed her reading. 

"Nice w " began Wilham Bates, as 

the ball soared off the tee, and checked him- 
self abruptly. Already he could see that 
the unfortunate girl had put too little beef 
into it. The ball was falhng, falhng. It 
fell. A crystal fountain flashed up towards 
the sun. The ball lay floating on the bosom 
of the stream, only some few feet short of 
the island. But, as has been well pointed 
out, that httle less and how far away! 

"Playing five!" said Jane, between her 
teeth. 

"What," inquired Rodney Spelvin, chat- 
tily, lighting a cigarette, "is the record 
break?" 

" Playing ^t;^," said Jane, with a dreadful 
calm, and gripped her mashie. 

"Half a second," said William Bates, 
suddenly. "I say, I believe you could play 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 237 

that last one from where it floats. A good 
crisp slosh with a niblick would put you on, 
and you'd be there in four, with a chance 
for a five. Worth trying, what? I mean, 
no sense in dropping strokes unless you 
have to." 

Jane's eyes were gleaming. She threw 
William a look of infinite gratitude. 

"Why, I beheve I could!" 

"Worth having a dash." 

"There's a boat down there!" 

"I could row," said William. 

"I could stand in the middle and slosh," 
cried Jane. 

"And what's-his-name — thaty said Wil- 
liam, jerking his head in the direction of 
Rodney Spelvin, who was strolling up and 
down behind the tee, humming a gay 
Venetian barcarolle, "could steer." 

"William," said Jane, fervently, "you're 
a darling." 

"Oh, I don't know," said Wilham, 
modestly. 

"There's no one like you in the world. 
Rodney ! " 

"Eh?" said Rodney Spelvin. 

"We're going out in that boat. I want 
you to steer." 

Rodney Spelvin' s face showed appre- 
ciation of the change of programme. Golf 
bored him, but what could be nicer than a 
gentle row in a boat. 

"Capital!" he said. "Capital! Capital!" 



238 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

There was a dreamy look in Rodney 
Spelvin's eyes as he leaned back with the 
tiller-ropes in his hands. This was just his 
idea of the proper way of passing a summer 
afternoon. Drifting lazily over the silver 
surface of the stream. His eyes closed. He 
began to murmur softly: 

"All to-day the slow sleek ripples hardly 
bear up shoreward. Charged with sighs 
more light than laughter, faint and fair, 
Like a woodland lake's weak wavelets 
lightly lingering forward, Soft and listless 
as the Here! Hi!" 

For at this moment the silver surface 
of the stream was violently split by a 
vigorously-wielded niblick, the boat lurched 
drunkenly, and over his Panama-hatted head 
and down his grey-flannelled torso there 
descended a cascade of water. 

"Here! Hi!" cried Rodney Spelvin. 

He cleared his eyes and gazed reproach- 
fully. Jane and William Bates were peering 
into the depths. 

"I missed it," said Jane. 

"There she spouts!" said William, 
pointing. * ' Ready ? " 

Jane raised her niblick. 

"Here! Hi!" bleated Rodney Spelvin, 
as a second cascade poured damply over 
him. 

He shook the drops off his face, and 
perceived that Jane was regarding him with 
hostility. 






RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 239 

*'I do wish you wouldn't talk just as I am 
swinging," she said, pettishly. "Now you've 
made me miss it again! If 3^ou can't 
keep quiet, I wish you wouldn't insist 
on coming round with one. Can vou see 
it, William?" 

There she blows," said William Bates. 
Here! You aren't going to do it again 
are you?" cried Rodney Spelvin. 

Jane bared her teeth. 

"I'm going to get that ball on to the green 
if I have to stay here all night," she said. 

Rodney Spelvin looked at her and 
shuddered. Was this the quiet, dreamy 
girl he had loved? This Maenad? Her hair 
was lying in damp wisps about her face, 
her eyes were shining with an unearthly 
light. 

"No, but really " he faltered. 

Jane stamped her foot. 

"What are you making all this fuss about, 
Rodney?" she snapped. "Where is it, 
William?" 

"There she dips," said William. ''Play- 
ing six." 

" Playing six." 

"Let her go," said William. 

"Let her go it is! " said Jane. 

A perfect understanding seemed to prevail 
between these two. 

Splash ! 

The woman on the bank looked up from 
her Vardon as Rodney Spelvin' s agonised 



240 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

scream rent the air. She saw a boat upon 
the water, a man rowing the boat, another 
man, hatless, gesticulating in the stern, a 
girl beating the water with a niblick. She 
nodded placidly and understandingly. A nib- 
lick was the club she would have used herself 
in such circumstances. Everything appeared 
to her entirely regular and orthodox. She 
resumed her book. 

Splash I 

"Playing fifteen," said Jane. 

"Fifteen is right," said William Bates. 

Splash I Splash ! Splash ! 

"Playing forty-four." 

"Forty-four is correct." 

Splash I Splash I Splash ! Splash ! 

"Eighty-three?" said Jane, brushing the 
hair out of her eyes. 

"No. Only eighty-two," said William 
Bates. 

"Where is it?" 

"There she drifts." 

A dripping figure rose violently in the 
stem of the boat, spouting water like a 
public fountain. For what seemed to him 
like an eternity Rodney Spelvin had ducked 
and spluttered and writhed, and now it 
came to him abruptly that he was through. 
He bounded from his seat, and at the same 
time Jane swung with all the force of her 
supple body. There was a splash beside 
which all the other splashes had been as 
nothing. The boat overturned and went 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 241 

drifting away. Three bodies plunged into 
the stream. Three heads emerged from the 
water. 

The woman on the bank looked absently 
in their direction. Then she resumed her 
book. 

*'It's all right," said William Bates, con- 
tentedly. "We're in our depth." 

"My bag!" cried Jane. "My bag of 
clubs!" 

"Must have sunk," said Wilham. 

"Rodney," said Jane, "my bag of clubs 
is at the bottom somewhere. Dive under 
and swim about and try to find it." 

"It's bound to be around somewhere," 
said William Bates encouragingly. 

Rodney Spelvin drew himself up to his full 
height. It was not an easy thing to do, for it 
was muddy where he stood, but he did it. 

"Damn your bag of clubs!" he bellowed, 
lost to all shame. "I'm going home!" 

With painful steps, tripping from time 
to time and vanishing beneath the surface, he 
sloshed to the shore. For a moment he 
paused on the bank, silhouetted against the 
summer sky, then he was gone. 

Jane Packard and William Bates watched 
him go with amazed eyes. 

"I never would have dreamed," said 
Jane, dazedly, "that he was that sort of 
man." 

"A bad lot," said Wilham Bates. 



242 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"The sort of man to be upset by the 
merest trifle!" 

"Must have a naturally bad disposition," 
said William Bates. 

"Why, if a little thing like this could make 
him so rude and brutal and horrid, it wouldn't 
be safe to marry him ! " 

"Taking a big chance," agreed William 
Bates. "Sort of fellow who would water 
the cat's milk and kick the baby in the 
face." He took a deep breath and dis- 
appeared. "Here are your clubs, old girl," 
he said, coming to the surface again. "Only 
wanted a bit of looking for." 

"Oh, Wilham," said Jane, "you are the 
most wonderful man on earth!" 

"Would you go as far as that?" said 
William. 

"I was mad, mad, ever to get engaged 
to that brute!" 

"Now there," said William Bates, remov- 
ing an eel from his left breast-pocket, "I'm 
absolutely with you. Thought so all along, 
but didn't like to say so. What I mean is, 
a girl like you — keen on golf and all that 
sort of thing — ought to marry a chap like 
me — keen on golf and everything of that 
description." 

"Wilham," cried Jane, passionately, de- 
taching a newt from her right ear, "I will!" 

"Silly nonsense, when you come right 
down to it, your marrying a fellow who 
doesn't play golf. Nothing in it." 



RODNEY FAILS TO QUALIFY 243 

"I'll break off the engagement the 
moment I get home." 

"You couldn't make a sounder move, old 
girl." 

"William!" 

"Jane!" 

The woman on the bank, glancing up as 
she turned a page, saw a man and a girl 
embracing, up to their waists in water. It 
seemed to have nothing to do with her. She 
resumed her book. 

Jane looked lovingly into William's eyes. 

"William," she said, "I think I have 
loved you all my life." 

"Jane," said William, "I'm dashed sure 
I've loved you all my life. Meant to tell you 
so a dozen times, but something always 
seemed to come up." 

"WiUiam," said Jane, "you're an angel 
and a darling. Where's the ball?" 

"There she pops." 

"Playing eighty-four?" 

"Eighty-four it is," said William. "Slow 
back, keep your eye on the ball, and don't 
press." 

The woman on the bank began Chapter 
Twenty-five. 



CHAPTER VIII 

JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 



^g- 



TiHE side-door leading into the smoking 
room opened, and the golf-club's 
popular and energetic secretary came 
trotting down the steps on to the terrace 
above the ninth green. As he reached the 
gravel, a wandering puff of wind blew the 
door to with a sharp report, and the Oldest 
Member, who had been dozing in a chair 
over his Wodehouse on the Niblick, un- 
closed his eyes, blinking in the strong light. 
He perceived the secretary skimming to and 
fro like a questing dog. 
^ "You have lost something?" he inquired, 
courteously. 

"Yes, a book. I wish," said the secretary, 
annoyed, "that people would leave things 
alone. You haven't seen a novel called 
The Man with the Missing Eyeball anywhere 
about, have you? I'll swear I left it on 
one of these seats when I went in to lunch." 
"You are better without it," said the 
Sagfe, with a touch of austerity. "I do not 

244 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 245 

approve of these trashy works of fiction. 
How much more profitably would your time 
be spent in mastering the contents of such 
a volume as I hold in my hand. This is 
the real literature." 

The secretary drew nearer, peering discon- 
tentedly about him; and as he approached 
the Oldest Member sniffed inquiringly. 

"What," he said, "is that odour of ? 

Ah, I see that you are wearing them in your 
buttonhole. White violets," he murmured. 
"White violets. Dear me!" 

The secretary smirked. 

"A girl gave them to me," he said, coyly. 
"Nice, aren't they?" He squinted down 
complacently at the flowers, thus missing 
a sudden sinister gleam in the Oldest Mem- 
ber's eye — a gleam which, had he been on his 
guard, would have sent him scudding over 
the horizon ; for it was the gleam which told 
that the Sage had been reminded of a story. 

"White violets," said the Oldest Member, 
in a meditative voice. "A curious coinci- 
dence that you should be wearing white 
violets and looking for a work of fiction. 
The combination brings irresistibly to my 
mmd 

Realising his peril too late, the secretary 
started violently. A gentle hand urged him 
into the adjoining chair. 

" the story," proceeded the Oldest 

Member, "of William Bates, Jane Packard, 
and Rodney Spelvin." 



246 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

The secretary drew a deep breath of 
rehef and the careworn look left his face. 

"It's all right," he said, briskly. "You 
told me that one only the other day. I 
remember every word of it. Jane Packard 
got engaged to Rodney Spelvin, the poet, 
but her better feelings prevailed in time, 
and she broke it off and married Bates, 
who was a golfer. I recall the whole thing 
distinctly. This man Bates was an un- 
romantic sort of chap, but he loved Jane 
Packard devotedly. Bless my soul, how it 
all comes back to me! No need to tell it 
me at all." 

"What I am about to relate now," said 
the sage, tightening his grip on the other's 
coat-sleeve, "is another story about William 
Bates, Jane Packard, and Rodney Spelvin." 

Inasmuch (said the Oldest Member) as 
you have not forgotten the events leading 
up to the marriage of William Bates and 
Jane Packard, I will not repeat them. All 
I need say is that that curious spasm of 
romantic sentiment which had caused Jane 
to fall temporarily under the spell of a man 
who was not only a poet but actually a non- 
golfer appeared to have passed completely 
away, leaving no trace behind. From the 
day she broke off her engagement to Spelvin 
and plighted her troth to young Bates, 
nothing could have been more eminently 
sane and satisfactory than her behaviour. 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 247 

She seemed entirely her old self once more. 
Two hours after William had led her down 
the aisle, she and he were out on the links, 
playing off the final of the Mixed Foursomes, 
which — and we all thought it the best of 
omens for their married happiness — they 
won hands down. A deputation of all that 
was best and fairest in the village then 
escorted them to the station to see them off 
on their honeymoon, which was to be spent 
in a series of visits to well-known courses 
throughout the country. 

Before the train left, I took young William 
aside for a moment. I had known both him 
and Jane since childhood, and the success 
of their union was very near my heart. 

"William," I said, "a word with you." 

"Make it snappy," said William. 

"You have learned by this time," I said, 
"that there is a strong romantic streak in 
Jane. It may not appear on the surface, but 
it is there. And this romantic streak will 
cause her, like so many wives, to attach an 
exaggerated importance to what may seem 
to you trivial things. She will expect from 
her husband not only love and a constant 
tender solicitude " 

"Speed it up," urged William. 

"What I am tr3dng to say is that, after 
the habit of wives, she will expect you to 
remember each year the anniversary of 
your wedding day, and will be madder than 
a wet hen if you forget it." 



248 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"That's all right. I thought of that 
myself." 

"It is not all right,** I insisted. "Unless 
you take the most earnest precautions, you 
are absolutely certain to forget. A year 
from now you will come down to breakfast, 
and Jane will say to you, 'Do you know 
what day it is to-day?' and you will answer 
'Tuesday' and reach for the ham and eggs, 
thus inflicting on her gentle heart a wound 
from which it will not readily recover." 

"Nothing like it," said WilUam, with 
extraordinary confidence. "I've got a system 
calculated to beat the game every time. 
You know how fond Jane is of white violets? " 

"Is she?" 

"She loves 'em. The bloke Spelvin used 
to give her a bunch every day. That's how 
I got the idea. Nothing like learning the 
shots from your opponent. I've arranged 
with a florist that a bunch of white violets 
is to be shipped to Jane every year on this 
day. I paid five years in advance. I am, 
therefore, speaking in the most conservative 
spirit, on velvet. Even if I forget the day, 
the violets will be there to remind me. I've 
looked at it from every angle, and I don't 
see how it can fail. Tell me frankly, is the 
scheme a wam or is it not?" 

"A most excellent plan," I said, relieved. 
And the next moment the train came in. 
I left the station with my mind at rest. It 
seemed to me that the only possible obstacle 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 249 

to the complete felicity of the young couple 
had been removed. 

Jane ^ind William returned in due season 
from their honeymoon, and settled down 
to the normal hfe of a healthy young couple. 
Each day they did their round in the morn- 
ing and their two rounds in the afternoon, 
and after dinner they would sit hand in 
hand in the peaceful dusk, reminding one 
another of the best shots they had brought 
off at the various holes. Jane would des- 
cribe to William how she got out of the 
bunker on the fifth, and Wilham would 
describe to Jane the low raking wind-cheater 
he did on the seventh, and then for a moment 
they would fall into that bhssful silence 
which only true lovers know, until William, 
illustrating his remarks with a walking- 
stick, would show Jane how he did that 
pin-splitter with the mashie on the sixteenth. 
An ideally happy union, one would have 
said. 

But all the while a httle cloud was gather- 
ing. As the anniversary of their wedding 
day approached, a fear began to creep into 
Jane's heart that William was going to 
forget it. The perfect husband does not 
wait till the dawning of the actual day to 
introduce the anniversary motif into his 
conversation. As long as a week in advance 
he is apt to say, dreamily, "About this time 
a year ago I was getting the old silk hat 



250 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

polished up for the wedding," or "Just about 
now, a year ago, they sent home the sponge- 
bag trousers, as worn, and I tried them on 
in front of the looking-glass." But William 
said none of these things. Not even on the 
night before the all-important date did he 
make any allusion to it, and it was with a 
dull feeling of foreboding that Jane came 
down to breakfast next morning. 

She was first at the table, and was pouring 
out the coffee when William entered. He 
opened the morning paper and started to 
peruse its contents in silence. Not a yip 
did he let out of him to the effect that this 
was the maddest, merriest day of all the 
glad new year. 

"William," said Jane. 

"Hullo?" 

"William," said Jane, and her voice 
trembled a little, "what day is it to-day?" 

William looked at her over the paper, 
surprised. 

"Wednesday, old girl," he replied. "Don't 
you remember that yesterday was Tuesday? 
Shocking memory you've got." 

He then reached out for the sausages and 
bacon and resumed his reading. 

"Jane," he said, suddenly. "Jane, old 
girl, there's something I want to tell you." 

"Yes?" said Jane, her heart beginning to 
flutter. 

"Something important." 

"Yes?" 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 251 

"It's about these sausages. They are the 
very best," said William, earnestly, "that 
I have ever bitten. Where did you get 
them?" 

"From Brownlow." 

"Stick to him," said William. 

Jane rose from the table and wandered 
out into the garden. The sun shone gaily, 
but for her the day was bleak and cold. 
That William loved her she did not doubt. 
But that streak of romance in her demanded 
something more than mere placid love. And 
when she realised that the poor mutt with 
whom she had linked her lot had forgotten 
the anniversary of their wedding-day first 
crack out of the box, her woman's heart 
was so wounded that for two pins she could 
have beaned him with a brick. 

It was while she was still brooding in this 
hostile fashion that she perceived the post- 
man coming up the garden. She went to 
meet him, and was handed a couple of 
circulars and a mysterious parcel. She 
broke the string, and behold! a cardboard 
box containing white violets. 

Jane was surprised. Who could be send- 
ing her white violets? No message accom- 
panied them. There was no clue whatever 
to their origin. Even the name of the florist 
had been omitted. 

"Now, who ?" mused Jane, and sud- 
denly started as if she had received a blow. 
Rodney Spelvin! Yes, it must be he. How 



252 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

many a bunch of white violets had he given 
her in the brief course of their engagement! 
This was his poetic way of showing her 
that he had not forgotten. All was over 
between them, she had handed him his 
hat and given him the air, but he still 
remembered. 

Jane was a good and dutiful wife. She 
loved her William, and no others need apply. 
Nevertheless, she was a woman. She looked 
about her cautiously. There was nobody 
in sight. She streaked up to her room and 
put the violets in water. And that night, 
before she went to bed, she gazed at them 
for several minutes with eyes that were a 
Httle moist. Poor Rodney! He could be 
nothing to her now, of course, but a dear 
lost friend; but he had been a good old 
scout in his day. 

It is not my purpose to weary you with 
repetitious detail in this narrative. I will, 
therefore, merely state that the next year 
and the next year and the year after that 
precisely the same thing took place in the 
Batese's home. Punctually every September 
the seventh William placidly forgot, and 
punctually every September the seventh the 
sender of the violets remembered. It was 
about a month after the fifth anniversary, 
when William had got his handicap down 
to nine and little Braid Vardon Bates, their 
only child, had celebrated his fourth birth- 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 253 

day, that Rodney Spelvin, who had hitherto 
confined himself to poetry, broke out in a 
new place and inflicted upon the citizenry 
a novel entitled The Purple Fan. 

I saw the announcement of the publica- 
tion in the papers; but beyond a passing 
resolve that nothing would induce me to 
read the thing I thought no more of the 
matter. It is always thus with life's really 
significant happenings. Fate sneaks its 
deadliest wallops in on us with such seeming 
nonchalance. How could I guess what that 
book was to do to the married happiness of 
Jane and William Bates? 

In deciding not to read The Purple Fan 
I had, I was to discover, over-estimated 
my powers of resistance. Rodney Spelvin' s 
novel turned out to be one of those things 
which it is impossible not to read. Within 
a week of its appearance it had begun to 
go through the country like Spanish influ- 
enza; and, much as I desired to avoid it, 
a perusal was forced on me by sheer weight 
of mass-thinking. Every paper that I 
picked up contained reviews of the book, 
references to it, letters from the clergy 
denouncing it; and when I read that three 
hundred and sixteen mothers had signed 
a petition to the authorities to have it sup- 
pressed, I was reluctantly compelled to spring 
the necessary cash and purchase a copy. 

I had not expected to enjoy it, and I did 
not. Written in the neodecadent style, 



254 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

which is so popular nowadays, its preciosity 
offended me; and I particularly objected 
to its heroine, a young woman of a type 
which, if met in real life, only ingrained 
chivalry could have prevented a normal 
man from kicking extremely hard. Having 
skimmed through it, I gave my copy to the 
man who came to inspect the drains. If 
I had any feeling about the thing, it was a 
reflection that, if Rodney Spelvin had had 
to get a novel out of his system, this was 
just the sort of novel he was bound to write. 
I remember experiencing a thankfulness that 
he had gone so entirely out of Jane's life. 
How little I knew! 

Jane, like every other woman in the 
village, had bought her copy of The Purple 
Fan. She read it surreptitiously, keeping 
it concealed, when not in use, beneath a 
cushion on the Chesterfield, It was not 
its general tone that caused her to do this, 
but rather the subconscious feeling that 
she, a good wife, ought not to be deriving 
quite so much enjoyment from the work of 
a man who had occupied for a time such 
a romantic place in her life. 

For Jane, unlike myself, adored the book. 
Eulalie French, its heroine, whose appeal I had 
so missed, seemed to her the most fascinating 
creature she had ever encountered. 

She had read the thing through six times 
when, going up to town one day to do some 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 255 

shopping, she ran into Rodney Spelvin. 
They found themselves standing side by 
side on the pavement, waiting for the traffic 
to pass. 

"Rodney!" gasped Jane. 
It was a difficult moment for Rodney 
Spelvin. Five years had passed since he had 
last seen Jane, and in those five years so 
many delightful creatures had made a fuss 
of him that the memory of the girl to whom 
he had once been engaged for a few weeks 
had become a little blurred. In fact, not to 
put too fine a point on it, he had forgotten 
Jane altogether. The fact that she had 
addressed him by his first name seemed to 
argue that they must have met at some time 
somewhere; but, though he strained his 
brain, absolutely nothing stirred. 

The situation was one that might have 
embarrassed another man, but Rodney 
Spelvin was a quick thinker. He saw at a 
glance that Jane was an extremely pretty 
girl, and it was his guiding rule in life never 
to let anything like that get past him. So 
he clasped her hand warmly, allowed an 
expression of amazed delight to sweep over 
his face, and gazed tensely into her eyes. 

"You!" he murmured, playing it safe. 
"You, little one!" 

Jane stood five feet seven in her stockings 
and had a fore-arm like the village black- 
smith's, but she liked being called "little 
one." 



256 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"How strange that we should meet like 
this ! " she said, blushing brightly. 

"After all these years," said Rodney 
Spelvin, taking a chance. It would be a 
nuisance if it turned out that they had met 
at a studio-party the day before yesterday, 
but something seemed to tell him that she 
dated back a goodish way. Besides, even 
if they had met the day before yesterday, 
he could get out of it by saying that the 
hours had seemed like years. For you can- 
not stymie these modern poets. The boys 
are there. 

"More than five," murmured Jane. 
"Now where the deuce was I five years 
ago?" Rodney Spelvin asked himself. 

Jane looked down at the pavement and 
shuffled her left shoe nervously. 

"I got the violets, Rodney," she said. 
Rodney Spelvin was considerably fogged, 
but he came back strongly. 

"That's good!" he said. "You got the 
violets? That's capital. I was wondering 
if you would get the violets." 
"It was like you to send them." 
Rodney blinked, but recovered himself 
immediately. He waved his hand with a 
careless gesture, indicative of restrained 
nobility. 

"Oh, as to that !" 

"Especially as I'm afraid I treated you 
rather badly. But it really was for the 
happiness of both of us that I broke off 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 257 

the engagement. You do understand that, 
don't you? " 

A light broke upon Rodney Spelvin. He 
had been confident that it would if he only 
stalled along for awhile. Now he placed 
this girl. She was Jane something, the girl 
he had been engaged to. By Jove, yes. 
He knew where he was now. 

"Do not let us speak of it," he said, 
registering pain. It was quite easy for him 
to do this. All there was to it was tightening 
the lips and drawing up the left eyebrow. 
He had practised it in front of his mirror, 
for a fellow never knew when it might not 
come in useful. 

"So you didn't forget me, Rodney?" 

"Forget you!" 

There was a short pause. 

"I read your novel," said Jane. "I loved 
it." 

She blushed again, and the colour in her 
cheeks made her look so remarkably pretty 
that Rodney began to feel some of the 
emotions which had stirred him five years 
ago. He decided that this was a good thing 
and wanted pushing along. 

"I hoped that you might," he said in a 
low voice, massaging her hand. He broke 
off and directed into her eyes a look of 
such squashy sentimentality that Jane reeled 
where she stood. "I wrote it for you," he 
added, simply. 

Jane gasped. 



258 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"For me?" 

" I supposed you would have guessed," said 
Rodney. "Surely you saw the dedication?" 

The Purple Fan had been dedicated, after 
Rodney Spelvin's eminently prudent fashion, 
to "One Who WiU Understand." He had 
frequently been grateful for the happy 
inspiration. 

"The dedication?" 

"'To One Who Will Understand'," said 
Rodney, softly. "Who would that be but 
you? 

"Oh, Rodney!" 

"And didn't you recognise Eulalie, Jane? 
Surely you cannot have failed to recognise 
Eulalie?" 

"Recognise her? " 

"I drew her from you," said Rodney 
Spelvin. 

Jane's mind was in a whirl as she went 
home in the train. To have met Rodney 
Spelvin again was enough in itself to stimu- 
late into activity that hidden pulse of 
romance in her. To discover that she had 
been in his thoughts so continuously all 
these years and that she still held such 
sway over his faithful heart that he had 
drawn the heroine of his novel from her 
was simply devastating. Mechanically she 
got out at the right station and mechanically 
made her way to the cottage. She was 
reheved to find that William was still out 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 259 

on the links. She loved William devotedly, 
of course, but just at the moment he would 
have been in the way; for she wanted a 
quiet hour with The Purple Fan. It was 
necessary for her to re-read in the light of 
this new knowledge the more important of 
the scenes in which Eulalie French figured. 
She knew them practically by heart already, 
but nevertheless she wished to read them 
again. When William returned, warm and 
jubilant, she was so absorbed that she only 
just had time to slide the book under the 
sofa-cushion before the door opened. 

Some guardian angel ought to have warned 
William Bates that he was selecting a bad 
moment for his re-entry into the home, or 
at least to have hinted that a preliminary 
wash and brush-up would be no bad thing. 
There had been rain in the night, causing 
the links to become a trifle soggy in spots, 
and William was one of those energetic 
golfers who do not spare themselves. The 
result was that his pleasant features were 
a good deal obscured by mud. An explosion- 
shot out of the bunker on the fourteenth 
had filled his hair with damp sand, and his 
shoes were a disgrace to any refined home. 
No, take him for all in all, William did not 
look his best. He was fine if the sort of man 
you admired was the brawny athlete straight 
from the dust of the arena ; but on a woman 
who was picturing herself the heroine of 
The Purple Fan he was bound to jar. Most 



26o THE HEART OF A GOOF 

of the scenes in which Eulahe French played 
anything Hke a fat part took place either 
on moonlight terraces or in beautifully fur- 
nished studios beneath the light of Oriental 
lamps with pink silk shades, and all the men 
who came in contact with her — except her 
husband, a clodhopping brute who spent 
most of his time in riding-kit — were per- 
fectly dressed and had dark, clean-cut, 
sensitive faces. 

William, accordingly, induced in Jane 
something closely approximating to the 
heeby-jeebies. 

"Hullo, old girl!" said William, affec- 
tionately. "You back? What have you 
been doing with yourself ? '* 

"Oh, shopping," said Jane, listlessly. 

"See anyone you knew?" 

For a moment Jane hesitated. 

" Yes," she said. " I met Rodney Spelvin." 

Jealousy and suspicion had been left 
entirely out of William Bates's make-up. 
He did not start and frown; he did not 
clutch the arm of his chair; he merely 
threw back his head and laughed like a 
hyaena. And that laugh wounded Jane 
more than the most violent exhibition oi 
mistrust could have done. 

"Good Lord!" gurgled William, jovially. 
"You don't mean to say that bird is still 
going around loose? I should have thought 
he would have been lynched years ago. 
Looks like negligence somewhere." 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 261 

There comes a moment in married life 
when every wife gazes squarely at her hus- 
band and the scales seem to fall from her 
eyes and she sees him as he is — one of 
Nature's Class A fatheads. Fortunately for 
married men, these times of clear vision do 
not last long, or there would be few homes 
left unbroken. It was so that Jane gazed 
at William now, but unhappily her convic- 
tion that he was an out-size in rough-neck 
chumps did not pass. Indeed, all through 
that evening it deepened. That night she 
went to bed feeling for the first time that, 
when the clergyman had said, "Wilt thou, 
Jane?" and she had replied in the affirma- 
tive, a mean trick had been played on an 
inexperienced girl. 

And so began that black period in the 
married life of Jane and William Bates, 
the mere recollection of which in after years 
was sufficient to put them right off their 
short game and even to affect their driving 
from the tee. To William, having no clue 
to the cause of the mysterious change in his 
wife, her behaviour was inexplicable. Had 
not her perfect robustness made such a 
theory absurd, he would have supposed that 
she was sickening for something. She golfed 
now intermittently, and often with positive 
reluctance. She was frequently listless and 
distrait. And there were other things about 
her of which he disapproved. 



262 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"I say, old girl," he said one evening, "I 
know you won't mind my mentioning it, 
and I don't suppose you're aware of it 
yourself, but recently you've developed a 
sort of silvery laugh. A nasty thing to have 
about the home. Try to switch it off, old 
bird, would you mind?" 

Jane said nothing. The man was not 
worth answering. All through the pages of 
The Purple Fan, Eulalie French's silvery 
laugh had been highly spoken of and greatly 
appreciated by one and all. It was the 
thing about her that the dark, clean-cut, 
sensitive-faced men most admired. And the 
view Jane took of the matter was that if 
William did not like it the poor fish could 
do the other thing. 

But this brutal attack decided her to 
come out into the open with the grievance 
which had been vexing her soul for weeks 
past. 

"William," she said, "I want to say 
something. Wilham, I am feeling stifled." 

"I'll open the window." 

"Stifled in this beastly little village, I 
mean," said Jane, impatiently. "Nobody 
ever does anything here except play golf 
and bridge, and you never meet an artist- 
soul from one year's end to the other. How 
can I express myself? How can I be my- 
self? How can I fulfil m5^self ? " 

"Do you want to?" asked Wilham, some- 
what out of his depth. 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 263 

"Of course I want to. And I shan't be 
happy unless we leave this ghastly place 
and go to live in a studio in town." 

William sucked thoughtfully at his pipe. 
It was a tense moment for a man who hated 
metropolitan life as much as he did. Never- 
theless, if the solution of Jane's recent 
weirdness was simply that she had got tired 
of the country and wanted to live in town, 
to the town they must go. After a first 
involuntary recoil, he nerved himself to the 
martyrdom like the fine fellow he was. 

"We'll pop off as soon as I can sell the 
house," he said. 

"I can't wait as long as that. I want 
to go now." 

"All right," said William, amiably. " We'U 
go next week." 

William's forebodings were quickly ful- 
filled. Before he had been in the Metropolis 
ten days he realised that he was up against 
it as he had never been up against it before. 
He and Jane and little Braid Vardon had 
established themselves in what the house- 
agent described as an attractive bijou studio- 
apartment in the heart of the artistic quar- 
ter. There was a nice bedroom for Jane, 
a delightful cupboard for Braid Vardon, 
and a cosy corner behind a Japanese screen 
for William. Most compact. The rest of 
the place consisted of a room with a large 
skylight, handsomely furnished with cushions 

12 



264 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

and samovars, where Jane gave parties to 
the inteUigentsia. 

It was these parties that afflicted Wilham 
as much as anything else. He had not 
reahsed that Jane intended to run a salon. 
His idea of a pleasant social evening was to 
have a couple of old friends in for a rubber 
of bridge, and the almost nightly incursion 
of a horde of extraordinary birds in floppy 
ties stunned him. He was unequal to the 
situation from the first. While Jane sat 
enthroned on her cushion, exchanging gay 
badinage with rising young poets and laugh- 
ing that silvery laugh of hers, William would 
have to stand squashed in a corner, trying 
to hold off some bobbed-haired female who 
wanted his opinion of Augustus John. 

The strain was frightful, and, apart from 
the sheer discomfort of it, he found to his 
consternation that it was beginning to affect 
his golf. Whenever he struggled out from 
the artistic zone now to one of the suburban 
courses, his jangled nerves unfitted him for 
decent play. Bit by bit his game left him. 
First he found that he could not express him- 
self with the putter. Then he began to fail 
to be himself with the mashie-niblick. And 
when at length he discovered that he was 
only fulfilling himself about every fifth shot 
off the tee he felt that this thing must stop. 

The conscientious historian will always 
distinguish carefully between the events 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 265 

leading up to a war and the actual occur- 
rence resulting in the outbreak of hostilities. 
The latter may be, and generally is, some 
almost trivial matter, whose only importance 
is that it fulfils the function of the last 
straw. In the case of Jane and William 
what caused the definite rift was Jane's 
refusal to tie a can to Rodney Spelvin. i 

The author of The Purple Fan had been 
from the first a leading figure in Jane's 
salon. Most of those who attended these 
functions were friends of his, introduced by 
him, and he had assumed almost from the 
beginning the demeanour of a master of 
the revels. William, squashed into his cor- 
ner, had long gazed at the man with sullen 
dislike, yearning to gather him up by the 
slack of his trousers and heave him into 
outer darkness ; but it is improbable that he 
would have overcome his native amiability 
sufficiently to make any active move, had it 
not been for the black mood caused by his 
rotten golf. But one evening, when, coming 
home after doing the Mossy Heath course 
in five strokes over the hundred, he found 
the studio congested with Rodney Spelvin 
and his friends, many of them playing 
ukeleles, he decided that flesh and blood 
could bear the strain no longer. 

As soon as the last guest had gone he 
delivered his ultimatum. 

"Listen, Jane," he said. "Touching on 
this Spelvin bloke." 



266 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Well?" said Jane, coldly. She scented 
battle from afar. 

"He gives me a pain in the neck." 

" Really? " said Jane, and laughed a silvery 
laugh. 

"Don't do it, old girl," pleaded Wilham, 
wincing. 

"I wish you wouldn't call me 'old girl'." 

"Why not?" 

"Because I don't like it." 

"You used to like it." 

"Well, I don't now." 

"Oh!" said William, and ruminated 
awhile. "Well, be that as it may," he went 
on, "I want to tell you just one thing. 
Either you throw the bloke Spelvin out on 
his left ear and send for the police if he 
tries to get in again, or I push off. I mean 
it! I absolutely push off." 

There was a tense silence. 

"Indeed?" said Jane at last. 

"Positively push off," repeated William, 
firmly. "I can stand a lot, but pie-faced 
Spelvin tries human endurance too high." 

"He is not pie-faced," said Jane, warmly. 

"He is pie-faced," insisted William. 
"Come round to the Vienna Bon-Ton 
Bakery to-morrow and I will show you an 
individual custard-pie that might be his 
brother." 

"Well, I am certainly not going to be 
bullied into giving up an old friend just 
because " 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 267 

William stared. 
You mean you won't hand him the 



mitten? " 

"I will not." 



Think what you are saying, Jane. You 
positively decline to give this false-alarm 
the quick exit? " 

"I do." 

"Then," said William, "aU is over. 1 
pop off." 

Jane stalked without a word into her 
bedroom. With a mist before his eyes 
William began to pack. After a few mo- 
ments he tapped at her door. 

"Jane." 

"Well?" 

"I'm packing." 

"Indeed?" 

"But I can't find my spare mashie." 

"I don't care." 

William returned to his packing. When 
it was finished, he stole to her door again. 
Already a faint stab of remorse was becoming 
blended with his just indignation. 

"Jane." 

"Well?" 

"I've packed." 

"Really?" 

"And now I'm popping." 

There was silence behind the door. 

"I'm popping, Jane," said William. And 
in his voice, though he tried to make it cold 
and crisp, there was a note of wistfulness. 



268 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Through the door there came a sound. 
It was the sound of a silvery laugh. And 
as he heard it Wilham's face hardened. 
Without another word he picked up his 
suit-case and golf-bag, and with set jaw 
strode out into the night. 

One of the things that tend to keep the 
home together in these days of modern 
unrest is the fact that exalted moods of 
indignation do not last. WiUiam, released 
from the uncongenial atmosphere of the 
studio, proceeded at once to plunge into an 
orgy of golf that for awhile precluded regret. 
Each day he indulged his starved soul 
with fifty-four holes, and each night he 
sat smoking in bed, pleasantly fatigued, 
reviewing the events of the past twelve 
hours with complete satisfaction. It seemed 
to him that he had done the good and sensible 
thing. 

And then, slowly at first, but day by day 
more rapidly, his mood began to change. 
That delightful feeling of jolly freedom ebbed 
away. 

It was on the morning of the tenth day 
that he first became definitely aware that 
all was not well. He had strolled out on 
the links after breakfast with a brassy and 
a dozen balls for a bit of practice, and, 
putting every ounce of weight and muscle 
into the stroke, brought off a snifter with 
his very first shot. Straight and true the 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 269 

ball sped for the distant green, and William, 
forgetting everything in the ecstasy of the 
moment, uttered a gladsome cry. 

" How about that one, old girl? " he 
exclaimed. 

And then, with a sudden sinking of the 
heart, he realised that he was alone. 

An acute spasm of regret shot through 
William's massive bosom. In that instant 
of clear thinking he understood that golf 
is not all. What shall it profit a man that 
he do the long hole in four, if there is no 
loving wife at his elbow to squeak congratu- 
lations? A dull sensation of forlorn empti- 
ness afflicted William Bates. It passed, but 
it had been. And he knew it would come 
again. 

It did. It came that same afternoon. It 
came next morning. Gradually it settled 
like a cloud on his happiness. He did 
his best to fight it down. He increased 
his day's output to sixty-three holes, but 
found no relief. When he reflected that he 
had had the stupendous luck to be married 
to a girl like Jane and had chucked the 
thing up, he could have kicked himself 
round the house. He was in exactly the 
position of the hero of the movie when the 
sub-title is flashed on the screen: "Came 
a Day When Remorse Bit Like An Adder 
Into Roland Spenlow's Soul." Of all the 
chumps who had ever tripped over them- 
selves and lost a good thing, from Adam 



270 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

downwards, he, he told himself, was the 
woollen-headedest. 

On the fifteenth morning it began to 
rain. 

Now, William Bates was not one of your 
fair-weather golfers. It took more than a 
shower to discourage him. But this was 
real rain, with which not even the stoutest 
enthusiast could cope. It poured down all 
day in a solid sheet and set the seal on his 
melancholy. He pottered about the house, 
sinking deeper and deeper into the slough 
of despond, and was trying to derive a little 
faint distraction from practising putts into a 
tooth-glass when the afternoon post arrived. 

There was only one letter. He opened 
it listlessly. It was from Jukes, Enderby, 
and Miller, florists, and what the firm wished 
to ascertain was whether, his deposit on 
white violets to be despatched annually to 
Mrs. William Bates being now exhausted, he 
desired to renew his esteemed order. If so, 
on receipt of the money they would spring 
to the task of sending same. 

Wilham stared at the letter dully. His 
first impression was that Jukes, Enderby, 
and Miller were talking through their collec- 
tive hats. White violets? What was all 
this drivel about white violets? Jukes was 
an ass. He knew nothing about white violets. 
Enderby was a fool. What had he got to 
do with white violets? Miller was a pin-head. 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 271 

He had never deposited any money to have 
white violets despatched. 

WilUam gasped. Yes, by George, he had, 
though, he remembered with a sudden start. 
So he had, by golly! Good gosh! it all 
came back to him. He recalled the whole 
thing, by Jove! Crikey, yes! 

The letter swam before William's eyes. 
A wave of tenderness engulfed him. All 
that had passed recently between Jane and 
himself was forgotten — her weirdness, her 
wish to hve in the Metropolis, her silvery 
laugh — everything. With one long, loving 
gulp, William Bates dashed a not unmanly 
tear from his eye and, grabbing a hat and 
raincoat, rushed out of the house and sprinted 
for the station. 

At about the hour when William flung 
himself into the train, Jane was sitting in 
her studio-apartment, pensively watching 
little Braid Vardon as he sported on the 
floor. An odd melancholy had gripped her. 
At first she had supposed that this was 
due to the rain, but now she was beginning 
to realise that the thing went much deeper 
than that. Reluctant though she was to 
confess it, she had to admit that what she 
was suffering from was a genuine soul- 
sadness, due entirely to the fact that she 
wanted William. 

It was strange what a difference his going 
had made. William was the sort of fellow 



272 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

you shoved into a corner and forgot about, 
but when he was not there the whole scheme 
of things seemed to go blooey. Little by 
little, since his departure, she had found 
the fascination of her surroundings tending 
to wane, and the glamour of her new friends 
had dwindled noticeably. Unless you were 
in the right vein for them, Jane felt, they 
could be an irritating crowd. They smoked 
too many cigarettes and talked too much. 
And not far from being the worst of them, 
she decided, was Rodney Spelvin. It was 
with a sudden feeling of despair that she 
remembered that she had invited him to 
tea this afternoon and had got in a special 
seed-cake for the occasion. The last thing 
in the world that she wanted to do was to 
watch Rodney Spelvin eating cake. 

It is a curious thing about men of the 
Spelvin type, how seldom they really last 
They get off to a flashy start and for a while 
convince impressionable girls that the search 
for a soul-mate may be considered formally 
over; but in a very short while reaction 
always sets in. There had been a time when 
Jane could have sat and listened to Rodney 
Spelvin for hours on end. Then she began 
to feel that from fifteen to twenty minutes 
was about sufficient. And now the mere 
thought of having to listen to him at all 
was crushing her like a heavy burden. 

She had got thus far in her meditations 
when her attention was attracted to little 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 273 

Braid Vardon, who was playing energetically 
in a corner with some object which Jane 
could not distinguish in the dim light. 

"What have you got there, dear?" she 
asked 

"Wah," said httle Braid, a child of few 
words, proceeding with his activities. 

Jane rose and walked across the room. 
A sudden feeling had come to her, the 
remorseful feeling that for some time now 
she had been neglecting the child. How 
seldom nowadays did she trouble to join 
in his pastimes! 

"Let mother play too," she said, gently. 
"What are you playing? Trains?" 

"Golf." 

Jane uttered a sharp exclamation. With 
a keen pang she saw that what the child 
had got hold of was William's spare mashie. 
So he had left it behind after all! Since 
the night of his departure it must have 
been lying unnoticed behind some chair or 
sofa. 

For a moment the only sensation Jane 
felt was an accentuation of that desolate 
feeling which had been with her all day. 
How many a time had she stood by William 
and watched him foozle with this club! 
Inextricably associated with him it was, and 
her eyes filled with sudden tears. And 
then she was abruptly conscious of a new, 
a more violent emotion, something akin to 
panic fear. She blinked, hoping against 



274 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

hope that she had been mistaken. But no. 
When she opened her eyes and looked again 
she saw what she had seen before. 

The child was holding the mas hie all wrong. 

"Braid!" gasped Jane in an agony. 

All the mother-love in her was shrieking 
at her, reproaching her. She realised now 
how paltry, how greedily self-centred she 
had been. Thinking only of her own 
pleasures, how sorely she had neglected 
her duty as a mother! Long ere this, had 
she been worthy of that sacred relation, 
she would have been brooding over her 
child, teaching him at her knee the correct 
Vardon grip, shielding him from bad habits, 
seeing to it that he did not get his hands 
in front of the ball, putting him on the right 
path as regarded the slow back-swing. But, 
absorbed in herself, she had sacrificed him 
to her shallow ambitions. And now there 
he was, grasping the club as if it had been 
a spade and scooping with it like one of 
those twenty-four handicap men whom the 
hot weather brings out on seaside links. 

She shuddered to the very depths of her 
soul. Before her eyes there rose a vision 
of her son, grown to manhood, reproaching 
her. "If you had but taught me the facts 
of life when I was a child, mother," she 
seemed to hear him say, "I would not now 
be going round in a hundred and twenty, 
rising to a hundred and forty in anything 
like a high wind." 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 275 

She snatched the club from his hands 
with a passionate cry. And at this precise 
moment in came Rodney Spelvin, all ready 
for tea. 

"Ah, little one!" said Rodney Spelvin, 

gaily. 

Something in her appearance must have 
startled him, for he stopped and looked at 
her with concern. 

"Are you ill?" he asked. 

Jane pulled herself together with an effort. 

"No, quite well. Ha, ha!" she replied, 
hysterically. 

She stared at him wildly, as she might 
have stared at a caterpillar in her salad. 
If it had not been for this man, she felt, 
she would have been with William in their 
snug little cottage, a happy wife. If it had 
not been for this man, her only child would 
have been laying the foundations of a correct 
swing under the eyes of a conscientious pro. 

If it had not been for this man She 

waved him distractedly to the door. 

"Good-bye," she said. "Thank you so 
much for calling." 

Rodney Spelvin gaped. This had been 
the quickest and most tealess tea-party he 
had ever assisted at. 

"You want me to go?" he said, incredu- 
lously. 

"Yes, go! go!" 

Rodney Spelvin cast a wistful glance at 
the gate-leg table. He had had a light 



276 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

lunch, and the sight of the seed-cake affected 
him deeply. But there seemed nothing to 
be done. He moved reluctantly to the door. 

"Well, good-bye," he said. "Thanks for 
a very pleasant afternoon." 

"So glad to have seen you," said Jane, 
mechanically. 

The door closed. Jane returned to her 
thoughts. But she was not alone for long. 
A few minutes later there entered the female 
cubist painter from downstairs, a manly 
young woman with whom she had become 
fairly intimate. 

"Oh, Bates, old chap!" said the cubist 
painter. 

Jane looked up. 

"Yes, Osbaldistone?" 

"Just came in to borrow a cigarette. 
Used up all mine." 

"So have I, I'm afraid." 

"Too bad. Oh, well," said Miss Osbaldi- 
stone, resignedly, "I suppose I'll have to go 
out and get wet. I wish I had had the sense 
to stop Rodney Spelvin and send him. I 
met him on the stairs." 

"Yes, he was in here just now," said 
Jane. 

Miss Osbaldistone laughed in her hearty 
manly way. 

"Good boy, Rodney," she said, "but too 
smooth for my taste. A little too ready 
with the salve." 

"Yes?" said Jane, absently. 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 277 

"Has he pulled that one on you yet about 
your being the original of the heroine of 
The Purple Fan?" 

"Why, yes," said Jane, surprised. "He 
did tell me that he had drawn Eulalie from 
me." 

Her visitor emitted another laugh that 
shook the samovars. 

"He tells every girl he meets the same 
thing." 

"What!" 

"Oh yes. It's his first move. He actu- 
ally had the nerve to try to spring it on 
me. Mind you, I'm not saying it's a bad 
stunt. Most girls like it. You're sure you've 
no cigarettes? No? Well, how about a 
shot of cocaine? Out of that too? Oh, 
well, I'll be going, then. Pip-pip, Bates." 

"Toodle-00, Osbaldistone," said Jane, 
dizzily. Her brain was reeling. She groped 
her way to the table, and in a sort of trance 
cut herself a slice of cake. 

"Wah!" said little Braid Vardon. He 
toddled forward, anxious to count himself 
in on the share-out. 

Jane gave him some cake. Having ruined 
his life, it was, she felt, the least she could 
do. In a spasm of belated maternal love 
she also slipped him a jam-sandwich. But 
how trivial and useless these things seemed 
now. 

"Braid!" she cried, suddenly. 

"What?" 



278 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Come here." 
'Why?" 

"Let mother show you how to hold that 
mashie." 

"What's a mashie?" 

A new gash opened in Jane's heart. Four 
years old, and he didn't know what a mashie 
was. And at only a slightly advanced age 
Bobby Jones had been playing in the 
American Open Championship. 

"This is a mashie," she said, controlling 
her voice with difficulty. 

"Why?" 

"It is called a mashie." 

"What is?" 

"This club." 

"Why?" 

The conversation was becoming too meta- 
physical for Jane. She took the club from 
him and closed her hands over it. 

"Now, look, dear," she said, tenderly. 
"Watch how mother does it. She puts the 
fingers " 

A voice spoke, a voice that had been 
absent all too long from Jane's life. 

"You'll pardon me, old girl, but you've 
got the right hand much too far over. You'll 
hook for a certainty." 

In the doorway, large and dripping, stood 
William. Jane stared at him dumbly. 

"William!" she gasped at length. 

"Hullo, Jane!" said William. "Hullo, 
Braid! Thought I'd look in." 



JANE GETS OFF THE FAIRWAY 279 

There was a long silence. 

"Beastly weather," said William. 

"Yes," said Jane. 

"Wet and all that," said WiUiam. 

"Yes," said Jane 

There was another silence. 

"Oh, by the way, Jane," said William. 
"Knew there was something I wanted to 
say. You know those violets?" 

"Violets?" 

"White violets. You remember those 
white violets I've been sending you every 
year on our wedding anniversary? Well, 
what I mean to say, our lives are parted 
and all that sort of thing, but you won't 
mind if I go on sending them — what? Won't 
hurt you, what I'm driving at, and'll please 
me, see what I mean? So, well, to put the 
thing in a nutshell, if you haven't any objec- 
tion, that's that." 

Jane reeled against the gate-leg table. 

"William! Was it you who sent those 
violets? ' 

"Absolutely. Who did you think it 
was? 

"William!" cried Jane, and flung herself 
into his arms. 

William scooped her up gratefully. This 
was the sort of thing he had been wanting 
for weeks past. He could do with a lot of 
this. He wouldn't have suggested it him- 
self, but, seeing that she felt that way, he 
was all for it. 



28o THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"William," said Jane, "can you ever for- 
give me? " 

"Oh, rather," said WilHam. "Like a 
shot. Though, I mean to say, nothing to 
forgive, and all that sort of thing." 

"We'll go back right away to our dear 
little cottage." 

"Fine!" 

"We'll never leave it again." 

; I Topping!" 

"I love you," said Jane, "more than life 
itself." 

"Good eggl" said William. 

Jane turned with shining eyes to little 
Braid Vardon. 

"Braid, we're going home with daddy!" 

"Where?" 

"Home. To our little cottage." 

"What's a cottage?" 

"The house where we used to be before 
we came here." 

"What's here?" 

"This is." 
Which? " 

Where we are now." 
Why?" 

"I'll tell you what, old girl," said 
William. "Just shove a green-baize cloth 
over that kid, and then start in and 
brew me about five pints of tea as strong 
and hot as you can jolly well make it. 
Otherwise I'm going to get the cold of a 
lifetime." 



ft • 



CHAPTER IX 

THE PURIFICATION OF RODNEY SPELVIN 

IT was an afternoon on which one would 
have said that all Nature smiled. 
The air was soft and balmy ; the links, 
fresh from the rains of spring, glistened in 
the pleasant sunshine; and down on the 
second tee young Clifford Wimple, in a new 
suit of plus-fours, had just sunk two balls in 
the lake, and was about to sink a third. No 
element, in short, was lacking that might be 
supposed to make for quiet happiness. 

And yet on the forehead of the Oldest 
Member, as he sat beneath the chestnut 
tree on the terrace overlooking the ninth 
green, there was a peevish frown ; and his 
eye, gazing down at the rolling expanse of 
turf, lacked its customary genial benevolence. 
His favourite chair, consecrated to his private 
and personal use by unwritten law, had been 
occupied by another. That is the worst of a 
free country — liberty so often degenerates 
into licence. 

The Oldest Member coughed. 

281 



282 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"I trust," he said, "you find that chair 
comfortable? " 

The intruder, who was the club's hitherto 
spotless secretary, glanced up in a goofy 
manner. 

"Eh?" 

"That chair — you find it fits snugly to the 
figure? " 

"Chair? Figure? Oh, you mean this 
chair? Oh yes." 

"I am gratified and relieved," said the 
Oldest Member. 

There was a silence. 

"Look here," said the secretary, "what 
would you do in a case like this? You 
know I'm engaged? " 

"I do. And no doubt your fiancee is 
missing you. Why not go in search of her? " 

"She's the sweetest girl on earth." 

"I should lose no time." 

"But jealous. And just now I was in my 
ofhce, and that Mrs. Pettigrew came in to 
ask if there was any news of the purse which 
she lost a couple of days ago. It had just 
been brought to my office, so I produced it; 
whereupon the infernal woman, in a most 
unsuitably girlish manner, flung her arms 
round my neck and kissed me on my bald 
spot. And at that moment Adela came in. 
Death," said the secretary, "where is thy 
sting? " 

The Oldest Member's pique melted. He 
had a feeling heart. 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 283 

"Most unfortunate. What did you say?" 

"I hadn't time to say anything. She 
shot out too quick." 

The Oldest Member dicked his tongue 
sympathetically. 

"These misunderstandings between young 
and ardent hearts are very frequent," he 
said. "I could tell you at least fifty cases 
of the same kind. The one which I will 
select is the story of Jane Packard, William 
Bates, and Rodney Spelvin." 

"You told me that the other day. Jane 
Packard got engaged to Rodney Spelvin, 
the poet, but the madness passed and 
she married William Bates, who was a 
golfer." 

"This is another story of the trio." 

"You told me that one, too. After Jane 
Packard married William Bates she fell once 
more under the spell of Spelvin, but repented 
in time." 

"This is still another story. Making 
three in all." 

The secretary buried his face in his hands. 

"Oh, well," he said, "go ahead. What does 
anything matter now? " 

"First," said the Oldest Member, "let us 
make ourselves comfortable. Take this chair. 
It is easier than the one in which you arc 
sitting." 

"No, thanks." 

"I insist." 

"Oh, aU right." 



284 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Woof!" said the Oldest Member, settling 
himself luxuriously. 

With an eye now full of kindly good-will, 
he watched young Clifford Wimple play his 
fourth. Then, as the silver drops flashed 
up into the sun, he nodded approvingly and 
began. 

The story which I am about to relate 
(said the Oldest Member) begins at a 
time when Jane and William had been 
married some seven years. Jane's handicap 
was eleven, William's twelve, and their little 
son. Braid Vardon, had just celebrated his 
sixth birthday. 

Ever since that dreadful time, two years 
before, when, lured by the glamour of 
Rodney Spelvin, she had taken a studio 
in the artistic quarter, dropped her golf, 
and practically learned to play the ukelele. 
Jane had been unremitting in her efforts to 
be a good mother and to bring up her son 
on the strictest principles. And, in order 
that his growing mind might have every 
chance, she had invited William's younger 
sister, Anastatia, to spend a week or two 
with them and put the child right on the 
true functions of the mashie. For Anastatia 
had reached the semi-finals of the last Ladies' 
Open Championship and, unlike many excel- 
lent players, had the knack of teaching. 

On the evening on which this story opens 
the two women were sitting in the drawing- 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 285 

room, chatting. They had finished tea ; and 
Anastatia, with the aid of a lump of sugar, 
a spoon, and some crumbled cake, was illus- 
trating the method by which she had got 
out of the rough on the fifth at Squashy 
Hollow. 

"You're wonderful!" said Jane, admir- 
ingly. "And such a good influence for 
Braid! You'll give him his lesson to- 
morrow afternoon as usual?" 

"I shall have to make it the morning," 
said Anastatia. "I've promised to meet a 
man in town in the afternoon." 

As she spoke there came into her face a 
look so soft and dreamy that it roused Jane 
as if a bradawl had been driven into her 
leg. As, her history has already shown, 
there was a strong streak of romance in 
Jane Bates. 

"Who is he?" she asked, excitedly. 

"A man I met last summer," said 
Anastatia. 

And she sighed with such abandon that 
Jane could no longer hold in check her 
womanly nosiness. 

"Do you love him?" she cried. 

"Like bricks," whispered Anastatia. 

"Does he love you?" 

"Sometimes I think so." 

"What's his name?" 

" Rodney Spelvin." 

"What!" 

"Oh, I know he writes the most awful 



286 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

bilge," said Anastatia, defensively, mis- 
interpreting the yowl of horror which had 
proceeded from Jane. "All the same, he's 
a darling." 

Jane could not speak. She stared at her 
sister-in-law aghast. Although she knew 
that if you put a driver in her hands she could 
paste the ball into the next county, there 
always seemed to her something fragile and 
helpless about Anastatia. William's sister 
was one of those small, rose-leaf girls with 
big blue eyes to whom good men instinctively 
want to give a stroke a hole and on whom 
bad men automatically prey. And when 
Jane reflected that Rodney Spelvin had to 
all intents and purposes preyed upon her- 
self, who stood five foot seven in her shoes 
and, but for an innate love of animals, could 
have felled an ox with a blow, she shuddered 
at the thought of how he would prey on this 
innocent half-portion. 

"You really love him?" she quavered. 

"If he beckoned to me in the middle of 
a medal round, I would come to him," said 
Anastatia. 

Jane realised that further words were 
useless. A sickening sense of helplessness 
obsessed her. Something ought to be done 
about this terrible thing, but what could 
she do? She was so ashamed of her past 
madness that not even to warn this girl 
could she reveal that she had once been 
engaged to Rodney Spelvin herself; that 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 287 

he had recited poetry on the green while 
she was putting; and that, later, he had 
hynotised her into taking William and little 
Braid to live in a studio full of samovars. 
These revelations would no doubt open 
Anastatia's eyes, but she could not make 
them. 

And then, suddenly. Fate pointed out a 
way. 

It was Jane's practice to go twice a week 
to the cinema palace in the village; and 
two nights later she set forth as usual and 
took her place just as the entertainment was 
about to begin. 

At first she was only mildly interested. 
The title of the picture, "Tried in the Fur- 
nace," had suggested nothing to her. Being 
a regular patron of the silver screen, she 
knew that it might quite easily turn out to 
be an educational film on the subject of 
chnker-coal. But as the action began to 
develop she found herself leaning forward 
in her seat, blindly crushing a caramel 
between her fingers. For scarcely had the 
operator started to turn the crank when 
inspiration came to her. 

Of the main plot of " Tried in the Furnace " 
she retained, when finally she reeled out 
into the open air, only a confused recollection. 
It had something to do with money not 
bringing happiness or happiness not bringing 
money, she could not remember which. 
But the part which remained graven upon 



K 



288 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

her mind was the bit where Gloria Gooch 
goes by night to the apartments of the 
hbertine, to beg him to spare her sister, 
whom he has entangled in his toils. 

Jane saw her duty clearly. She must 
go to Rodney Spelvin and conjure him by 
the memory of their ancient love to spare 
Anastatia. 

It was not the easiest of tasks to put this 
scheme into operation. Gloria Gooch, be- 
ing married to a scholarly man who spent 
nearly all his time in a library a hundred yards 
long, had been fortunately situated in the 
matter of paying visits to libertines; but 
for Jane the job was more difhcult. Wilham 
expected her to play a couple of rounds with 
him in the morning and another in the 
afternoon, which rather cut into her time. 
However, Fate was still on her side, for one 
morning at breakfast Wilham announced 
that business called him to town. 

"Why don't you come too?" he said. 

Jane started. 

"No. No, I don't think I will, thanks." 

"Give you lunch somewhere." 

"No. I want to stay here and do some 
practice-putting. ' ' 

"All right. I'll try to get back in time 
for a round in the evening." 

Remorse gnawed at Jane's vitals. She 
had never deceived William before. She 
kissed him with even more than her usual 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 289 

fondness when he left to catch the ten-forty- 
five. She waved to him till he was out of 
sight; then, bounding back into the house, 
leaped at the telephone and, after a series 
of conversations with the Marks-Morris Glue 
Factory, the Poor Pussy Home for Indigent 
Cats, and Messrs. Oakes, Oakes, and Parbury, 
dealers in fancy goods, at last found herself 
in communication with Rodney Spelvin. 

"Rodney?" she said, and held her breath, 
fearful at this breaking of a two years' 
silence and yet loath to hear another strange 
voice say " Wadnumjerwant?" " Is that you, 
Rodney?" 

"Yes. Who is that?" 

"Mrs. Bates. Rodney, can you give me 
lunch at the Alcazar to-day at one?" 

"Can I!" Not even the fact that some 
unknown basso had got on the wire and was 
asking if that was Mr. Bootle could blur 
the enthusiasm in his voice. "I should 
say so!" 

"One o'clock, then," said Jane. His en- 
thusiastic response had relieved her. If by 
merely speaking she could stir him so, 
to bend him to her will when they met face 
to face would be pie. 

"One o'clock," said Rodney. 

Jane hung up the receiver and went to 
her room to try on hats. 

The impression came to Jane, when she 
entered the lobby of the restaurant and 



290 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

saw him waiting, that Rodney Spelvin 
looked somehow different from the Rodney 
she remembered. His handsome face had a 
deeper and more thoughtful expression, as 
if he had been through some ennobling 
experience. 

"Well, here I am," she said, going to 
him and affecting a jauntiness which she 
did not feel. 

He looked at her, and there was in his 
eyes that unmistakable goggle which comes 
to men suddenly addressed in a public spot 
by women whom, to the best of their recol- 
lection, they do not know from Eve. 

"How are you?" he said. He seemed 
to pull himself together. "You're looking 
splendid." 

"You're looking fine," said Jane. 

" You're looking awfully well," said Rodney. 

"You're looking awfully well," said Jane. 

"You're looking fine," said Rodney. 

There was a pause. 

"You'll excuse me glancing at my watch," 
said Rodney. "I have an appointment to 
lunch with — er — somebody here, and it's 
past the time." 

"But you're lunching with me," said 
Jane, puzzled. 

"With you?" 

"Yes. I rang you up this morning." 

Rodney gaped. 

"Was it you who 'phoned? I thought you 
said * Miss Bates.' " 



PURIFICATION OF SFELVIN 291 

"No, Mrs. Bates." 

"Mrs. Bates?" 

"Mrs. Bates." 

"Of course. You're Mrs. Bates." 

"Had you forgotten me?" said Jane, in 
spite of herself a little piqued. 

"Forgotten you, dear lady! As if I 
could!" said Rodney, with a return of his 
old manner. "Well, shall we go in and 
have lunch? " 

"All right," said Jane. 

She felt embarrassed and ill at ease. The 
fact that Rodney had obviously succeeded 
in remembering her only after the effort of 
a hfetime seemed to her to fling a spanner 
into the machinery of her plans at the very 
outset. It was going to be difficult, she 
realised, to conjure him by the memory of 
their ancient love to spare Anastatia; for 
the whole essence of the idea of conjuring 
anyone by the memory of their ancient love 
is that the party of the second part should 
be aware that there ever was such a 
thing. 

At the luncheon-table conversation pro- 
ceeded fitfully. Rodney said that this 
morning he could have sworn it was going 
to rain, and Jane said she had thought so, 
too, and Rodney said that now it looked as 
if the weather might hold up, and Jane said 
Yes, didn't it? and Rodney said he hoped 
the weather would hold up because rain 
was such a nuisance, and Jane said Yes, 



292 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

wasn't it? Rodney said yesterday had 
been a nice day, and Jane said Yes, and 
Rodney said that it seemed to be getting a 
httle warmer, and Jane said Yes, and Rodney 
said that summer would be here any moment 
now, and Jane said Yes, wouldn't it? and 
Rodney said he hoped it would not be too 
hot this summer, but that, as a matter of 
fact, when you came right down to it, what 
one minded was not so much the heat as the 
humidity, and Jane said Yes, didn't one? 

In short, by the time they rose and leit 
the restaurant, not a word had been spoken 
that could have provoked the censure of the 
sternest critic. Yet William Bates, catching 
sight of them as they passed down the aisle, 
started as if he had been struck by lightning. 
He had happened to find himself near the 
Alcazar at lunch-time and had dropped in 
for a chop; and, peering round the pillar 
which had hidden his table from theirs, he 
stared after them with saucer-like eyes. 

"Oh, dash it!" said Wilham. 

This William Bates, as I have indicated 
in my previous references to him, was not 
an abnormally emotional or temperamental 
man. Built physically on the lines of a 
motor-lorry, he had much of that vehicle's 
placid and even phlegmatic outlook on hfe. 
Few things had the power to ruffle William, 
but, unfortunately, it so happened that one 
of these things was Rodney Spelvin. He 
had never been able entirely to overcome his 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 293 

jealousy of this man. It had been Rodney 
who had come within an ace of scooping 
Jane from him in the days when she had 
been Miss Packard. It had been Rodney 
who had temporarily broken up his home 
some years later by persuading Jane to 
become a member of the artistic set. And 
now, unless his eyes jolly well deceived him, 
this human gumboil was once more busy on 
his dastardly work. Too dashed thick, 
was William's view of the matter; and he 
gnashed his teeth in such a spasm of re- 
sentful fury that a man lunching at the 
next table told the waiter to switch off the 
electric fan, as it had begun to creak unen- 
durably. 

Jane was reading in the drawing-room 
when WilHam reached home that night. 

"Had a nice day? " asked William. 

"Quite nice," said Jane. 

"Play golf? " asked Wilham. 

"Just practised," said Jane. 

"Lunch at the club?" 

"Yes." 

"I thought I saw that bloke Spelvin in 
town," said William. 

Jane wrinkled her forehead. 

" Spelvin? Oh, you mean Rodney Spelvin? 
Did you? I see he's got a new book coming 
out." 

"You never run into him these days, do 
you? " 



294 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"Oh no. It must be two years since 
I saw him." 

"Oh? " said WilHam. "Well, I'll be going 
upstairs and dressing." 

It seemed to Jane, as the door closed, 
that she heard a curious clicking noise, and 
she wondered for a moment if little Braid had 
got out of bed and was playing with the Mah- 
Jongg counters. But it was only William 
gnashing his teeth. 

There is nothing sadder in this life than the 
spectacle of a husband and wife with 
practically identical handicaps drifting 
apart; and to dwell unnecessarily on such 
a spectacle is, to my mind, ghoulish. It is 
not my purpose, therefore, to weary you 
with a detailed description of the hourly 
widening of the breach between this once 
ideally united pair. Suffice it to say that 
within a few days of the conversation just 
related the entire atmosphere of this happy 
home had completely altered. On the 
Tuesday, William excused himself from the 
morning round on the plea that he had 
promised Peter Willard a match, and Jane 
said What a pity! On Tuesday afternoon 
William said that his head ached, and Jane 
said Isn't that too bad? On Wednesday 
morning William said he had lumbago, and 
Jane, her sensitive feelings now deeply 
wounded, said Oh, had he? After that, it 
came to be agreed between them by silent 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 295 

compact that they should play together no 
more. 

Also, they began to avoid one another in 
the house. Jane would sit in the drawing- 
room, while William retired down the passage 
to his den. In short, if you had added a 
couple of ikons and a photograph of Trotsky, 
you would have had a mise en scene which 
would have fitted a Russian novel like the 
paper on the wall. 

One evening, about a week after the 
beginning of this tragic state of affairs, 
Jane was sitting in the drawing-room, trying 
to read Braid on Taking Turf. But the 
print seemed blurred and the philosophy 
too metaphysical to be grasped. She laid 
the book down and stared sadly before her. 

Every moment of these black days had 
affected Jane like a stymie on the last green. 
She could not understand how it was that 
William should have come to suspect, but 
that he did suspect was plain ; and she 
writhed on the horns of a dilemma. All she 
had to do to win him back again was to go 
to him and tell him of Anastatia's fatal 
entanglement. But what would happen 
then? Undoubtedly he would feel it his 
duty as a brother to warn the girl against 
Rodney Spelvin; and Jane instinctively 
knew that William warning anyone against 
Rodney Spelvin would sound like a private 
of the line giving his candid opinion of the 
sergeant-major. 

K2 



296 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

Inevitably, in this case, Anastatia, a 
spirited girl and deeply in love, would take 
offence at his words and leave the house. 
And if she left the house, what would be the 
effect on little Braid's mashie-play? Already, 
in less than a fortnight, the gifted girl had 
taught him more about the chip-shot from 
ten to fifteen yards off the green than the 
local pro. had been able to do in two years. 
Her departure would be absolutely disastrous. 

What it amounted to was that she must 
sacrifice her husband's happiness or her 
child's future ; and the problem of which was 
to get the loser's end was becoming daily 
more insoluble. 

She was still brooding on it when the 
postman arrived with the evening mail, and 
the maid brought the letters into the drawing- 
room. 

Jane sorted them out. There were three 
for William, which she gave to the maid to 
take to him in his den. There were two for 
herself, both bills. And there was one for 
Anastatia, in the well-remembered hand- 
writing of Rodney Spelvin. 

Jane placed this letter on the mantel- 
piece, and stood looking at it like a cat at 
a canary. Anastatia was away for the day, 
visiting friends who lived a few stations 
down the line ; and every womanly instinct 
in Jane urged her to get hold of a kettle and 
steam the gum off the envelope. She had 
almost made up her mind to disembowel the 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 297 

thing and write "Opened in error" on it, 
when the telephone suddenly went off like 
a bomb and nearly startled her into a decline. 
Coming at that moment it sounded like the 
Voice of Conscience. 

"Hullo?" said Jane. 

"Hullo!" replied a voice. 

Jane clucked like a hen with uncontrol- 
lable emotion. It was Rodney. 

"Is that you?" asked Rodney. 

"Yes," said Jane. 

And so it was, she told herself. 

"Your voice is like music," said Rodney. 

This may or may not have been the case, 
but at any rate it was exactly like every 
other female voice when heard on the 
telephone. Rodney prattled on without a 
suspicion. 

"Have you got my letter yet?" 

"No," said Jane. She hesitated. "What 
was in it?" she asked, tremulously. 

"It was to ask you to come to my house 
to-morrow at four." 

"To your house!" faltered Jane. 

"Yes. Everything is ready. I will send 
the servants out, so that we shall be quite 
alone. You will come, won't you?" 

The room was shimmering before Jane's 
eyes, but she regained command of herself 
with a strong effort. 

" Yes," she said. " I will be there." 

She spoke softly, but there was a note 
of menace in her voice. Yes, she would 



298 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

indeed be there. From the very moment 
when this man had made his monstrous 
proposal, she had been asking herself what 
Gloria Gooch would have done in a crisis 
like this. And the answer was plain. Gloria 
Gooch, if her sister-in-law was intending to 
visit the apartments of a libertine, would 
have gone there herself to save the poor 
child from the consequences of her in- 
fatuated folly. 

"Yes," said Jane, "I wiU be there." 

"You have made me the happiest man in 
the world," said Rodney. "I will meet 
you at the comer of the street at four, 
then." He paused. "What is that curious 
clicking noise?" he asked. 

"I don't know," said Jane. "I noticed 
it myself. Something wrong with the wire, 
I suppose." 

"I thought it was somebody playing the 
castanets. Until to-morrow, then, good- 
bye." 

"Good-bye." 

Jane replaced the receiver. And William, 
who had been listening to every word of 
the conversation on the extension in his 
den, replaced his receiver, too. 

Anastatia came back from her visit late 
that night. She took her letter, and 
read it without comment. At break- 
fast next morning she said that she would 
be compelled to go into town that day. 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 299 

"I want to see my dressmaker," she 
said. 

"I'U come, too," said Jane. "I want 
to see my dentist." 

"So will I," said William. "I want to 
see my lawyer." 

"That will be nice," said Anastatia, after 
a pause. 

"Very nice," said Jane, after another 
pause. 

"We might all lunch together," said 
Anastatia. "My appointment is not tiU 
four." 

"I should love it," said Jane. "My 
appointment is at four, too." 

"So is mine," said William. 

"What a coincidence!" said Jane, trying 
to speak brightly. 

"Yes," said William. He may have 
been trying to speak brightly, too; but, if 
so, he failed. Jane was too young to have 
seen Salvini in "Othello," but, had she 
witnessed that great tragedian's performance, 
she could not have failed to be struck by 
the resemblance between his manner in the 
pillow scene and William's now. 

"Then shall we all lunch together?" said 
Anastatia. 

"I shall lunch at my club," said William, 
curtly. 

"William seems to have a grouch," said 
Anastatia. 

"Ha!" said William. 



300 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

He raised his fork and drove it with sicken- 
ing violence at his sausage. 

So Jane had a quiet Httle woman's lunch 
at a confectioner's alone with Anastatia. 
Jane ordered a tongue-and-lettuce sand- 
wich, two macaroons, marsh-mallows, 
ginger-ale and cocoa; and Anastatia ordered 
pineapple chunks with whipped cream, 
tomatoes stuffed with beetroot, three dill 
pickles, a raspberry nut sundae, and hot 
chocolate. And, while getting outside this 
garbage, they talked merrily, as women 
will, of every subject but the one that really 
occupied their minds. When Anastatia got 
up and said good-bye with a final reference 
to her dressmaker, Jane shuddered at the 
depths of deceit to which the modern girl 
can sink. 

It was now about a quarter to three, so 
Jane had an hour to kill before going to the 
rendezvous. She wandered about the streets, 
and never had time appeared to her to pass 
so slowly, never had a city been so con- 
gested with hard-eyed and suspicious citizens. 
Every second person she met seemed to glare 
at her as if he or she had guessed her secret. 

The very elements joined in the general 
disapproval. The sky had turned a sullen 
grey, and far-away thunder muttered faintly, 
like an impatient golfer held up on the tee 
by a slow foursome. It was a relief when at 
length she found herself at the back of 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 301 

Rodney Spelvin's house, standing before the 
scullery window, which it was her intention 
to force with the pocket-knife won in happier 
days as second prize in a competition at a 
summer hotel for those with handicaps above 
eighteen. 

But the relief did not last long. Despite 
the fact that she was about to enter this evil 
house with the best motives, a sense of 
almost intolerable guilt oppressed her. If 
William should ever get to know of this! 
Wow! felt Jane. 

How long she would have hesitated before 
the window, one cannot say. But at this 
moment, glancing guiltily round, she hap- 
pened to catch the eye of a cat which was 
sitting on a near-by wall, and she read in 
this cat's eye such cynical derision that the 
urge came upon her to get out of its range 
as quickly as possible. It was a cat that 
had manifestly seen a lot of life, and it was 
plainly putting an entirely wrong construc- 
tion on her behaviour. Jane shivered, and, 
with a quick jerk prised the window open 
and climbed in. 

It was two years since she had entered 
this house, but once she had reached the 
hall she remembered its topography per- 
fectly. She mounted the stairs to the large 
studio sitting-room on the first floor, the 
scene of so many Bohemian parties in that 
dark period of her artistic life. It was here, she 
knew, that Rodney would bring his victim. 



302 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

The studio was one of those dim, over- 
ornamented rooms which appeal to men hke 
Rodney Spelvin. Heavy curtains hung in 
front of the windows. One corner was cut 
off by a high-backed Chesterfield. At the 
far end was an alcove, curtained like the 
windows. Once Jane had admired this 
studio, but now it made her shiver. It 
seemed to her one of those nests in which, 
as the sub-title of Tried in the Furnace 
had said, only eggs of evil are hatched. 
She paced the thick carpet restlessly, and 
suddenly there came to her the sound of 
footsteps on the stairs. 

Jane stopped, every muscle tense. The 
moment had arrived. She faced the door, 
tight-lipped. It comforted her a little in 
this crisis to reflect that Rodney was not 
one of those massive Ethel M. Dell libertines 
who might make things unpleasant for an 
intruder. He was only a welter-weight Q^g 
of evil; and, if he tried to start anything, a 
girl of her physique would have little or no 
difficulty in knocking the stuffing out of 
him. 

The footsteps reached the door. The handle 
turned. The door opened. And in strode 
William Bates, followed by two men in 
bowler hats. 

"Ha!" said William. 

Jane's lips parted, but no sound came 
from them. She staggered back a pace or 
two. William, advancing into the centre of 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 303 

the room, folded his arms and gazed at her 
with burning eyes. 

"So," said WilHam, and the words seemed 
forced hke drops of vitriol from between 
his clenched teeth, "I find you here, dash 
it!" 

Jane choked convulsively. Years ago, 
when an innocent child, she had seen a 
conjurer produce a rabbit out of a top-hat 
which an instant before had been con- 
clusively proved to be empty. The sudden 
apparition of William affected her with much 
the same sensations as she had experienced 
then. 

"How-ow-ow ?" she said. 

"I beg your pardon?" said William, 
coldly. 

" How-ow-ow ? " 

"Explain yourself," said William. 

"How-ow-ow did you get here? And who- 
00-00 are these men? " 

William seemed to become aware for the 
first time of the presence of his two com- 
panions. He moved a hand in a hasty 
gesture of introduction. 

"Mr. Reginald Brown and Mr. Cyril 
Delancey — my wife," he said, curtly. 

The two men bowed slightly and raised 
their bowler hats. 

"Pleased to meet you," said one. 

"Most awfully charmed," said the other. 

"They are detectives," said William. 

"Detectives!" 



304 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"From the Quick Results Agency," said 
William. "When I became aware of your 
clandestine intrigue, I went to the agency 
and they gave me their two best men." 

"Oh, well," said Mr. Brown, blushing a 
nttle. 

"Most frightfully decent of you to put 
it that way," said Mr. Delancey. 

William regarded Jane sternly. 

"I knew you were going to be here at 
four o'clock," he said. "I overheard you 
making the assignation on the telephone." 

"Oh, William!" 

"Woman," said William, "where is your 
paramour? " 

"Really, really," said Mr. Delancey, depre- 
catingly. 

" Keep it clean," urged Mr. Brown. 

"Your partner in sin, where is he? I 
am going to take him and tear him into 
little bits and stuff him down his throat and 
make him swallow himself." 

"Fair enough," said Mr. Brown. 

"Perfectly in order," said Mr. Delancey. 

Jane uttered a stricken cry. 

"WiUiam," she screamed, "I can explain 
all." 

"All? " said Mr. Delancey. 

"All? "said Mr. Brown. 

"All," said Jane. 

"All?" said William. 

"All," said Jane. 

William sneered bitterly. 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 305 

**I'U bet you can't," he said. 

"I'll bet I can," said Jane. 

"Well?" 

"I came here to save Anastatia.*' 

"Anastatia?" 

"Anastatia." 

"My sister?" 

"Your sister." 

"His sister Anastatia," explained Mr 
Brown to Mr. Delancey in an under- 
tone. 

"What from? " asked WiUiam. 

"From Rodney Spelvin. Oh, William 
can't you understand? " 

"No, I'm dashed if I can." 

"I, too," said Mr. Delancey, "must con- 
fess myself a little fogged. And you, 
Reggie?" 

"Completely, Cyril," said Mr. Brown, 
removing his bowler hat with a puzzled 
frown, examining the maker's name, and 
putting it on again. 

"The poor child is infatuated with this 
man." 

" With the bloke Spelvin?" 

"Yes. She is coming here with him at 
four o'clock." 

"Important," said Mr. Brown, producing 
a note-book and making an entry. 

"Important, if true," agreed Mr. Delancey. 

"But I heard you making the appoint- 
ment with the bloke Spelvin over the 
'phone," said William. 



30b THE HEART OF A GOOF 

**He thought I was Anastatia. And I 
came here to save her.*' 

William was silent and thoughtful for a 
few moments. 

'*It all sounds very nice and plausible," 
he said, "but there's just one thing 
wrong. I'm not a very clever sort of bird, 
but I can see where your story slips up. If 
what you say is true, where is Anastatia? " 

"Just coming in now," whispered Jane. 
"Hist!" 

"Hist, Reggie!" whispered Mr. Delancey. 

They listened. Yes, the front door had 
banged, and feet were ascending the staircase. 

"Hide!" said Jane, urgently. 

"Why?" said William. 

"So that you can overhear what they say 
and jump out and confront them." 

"Sound," said Mr. Delancey. 

"Very sound," said Mr. Brown. 

The two detectives concealed themselves 
in the alcove. William retired behind the 
curtains in front of the window. Jane dived 
behind the Chesterfield. A moment later 
the door opened. 

Crouching in her comer, Jane could see 
nothing, but every word that was spoken 
came to her ears ; and with every syllable her 
horror deepened. 

"Give me your things," she heard 
Rodney say, "and then we will go upstairs." 

Jane shivered. The curtains by the 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 307 

window shook. From the direction of the 
alcove there came a soft scratching sound, 
as the two detectives made an entry in their 
note-books. 

For a moment after this there was silence. 
Then Anastatia uttered a sharp, protesting 
cry. 

"Ah, no, no! Please, please ! " 

"But why not?" came Rodney's voice. 

"It is wrong — wrong." 

"I can't see why." 

"It is, it is! You must not do that. Oh, 
please, please don't hold so tight." 

There was a swishing sound, and through 
the curtains before the window a large form 
burst. Jane raised her head above the 
Chesterfield. 

William was standing there, a menacing 
figure. The two detectives had left the 
alcove and were moistening their pencils. 
And in the middle of the room stood Rodney 
Spelvin, stooping slightly and grasping Anas- 
tatia's parasol in his hands. 

"I don't get it," he said. "Why is it 
wrong to hold the dam' thing tight?" 
He looked up and perceived his visitors. 
"Ah, Bates," he said, absently. He turned 
to Anastatia again. "I should have 
thought that the tighter you held it, the more 
force you would get into the shot." 

"But don't you see, you poor zimp," 
replied Anastatia, "that you've got to keep 
the ball straight. If you grip the shaft as 



3o8 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

if you were a drowning man clutching at 
a straw and keep your fingers under like 
that, you'll pull like the dickens and probably 
land out of bounds or in the rough. What's 
the good of getting force into the shot if 
the ball goes in the wrong direction, you 
cloth-headed goof? " 

"I see now," said Rodney, humbly. 
*'How right you always are!" 

**Look here," interrupted William, folding 
his arms. "What is the meaning of this?" 

"You want to grip firmly but lightly," 
said Anastatia. 

"Firmly but lightly," echoed Rodney. 

"What is the meaning of this?" 

" And with the fingers. Not with the palms." 

"What is the meaning of this?" thun- 
dered William. "Anastatia, what are you 
doing in this man's rooms? " 

"Giving him a golf lesson, of course. And 
I wish you wouldn't interrupt." 

"Yes, yes," said Rodney, a little testily. 
"Don't interrupt, Bates, there's a good 
fellow. Surely you have things to occupy 
you elsewhere? " 

"We'll go upstairs," said Anastatia, 
"where we can be alone." 

"You will not go upstairs," barked 
William. 

"We shall get on much better there," 
explained Anastatia. "Rodney has fitted 
up the top-floor back as an indoor practising 



room." 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 309 

Jane darted forward with a maternal cry. 

"My poor child, has the scoundrel dared 
to delude you by pretending to be a golfer? 
Darhng, he is nothing of the kind." 

Mr. Reginald Brown coughed. For some 
moments he had been twitching restlessly. 

"Talking of golf," he said, "it might 
interest you to hear of a little experience 
I had the other day at Marshy Moor. I had 
got a nice drive off the tee, nothing record- 
breaking, you understand, but straight and 
sweet. And what was my astonishment on 
walking up to play my second to find " 

"A rather similar thing happened to me 
at Windy Waste last Tuesday," interrupted 
Mr. Delancey. "I had hooked my drive the 
merest trifle, and my caddie said to me, 
'You're out of bounds,' *I am not out of 
bounds,' I replied, perhaps a little tersely, 
for the lad had annoyed me by a persistent 
habit of sniffing. 'Yes, you are out of 
bounds,' he said. 'No, I am not out of 
bounds,' I retorted. Well, believe me or 
believe me not, when I got up to my ball " 

"Shut up!" said WiUiam. 

"Just as you say, sir," replied Mr. 
Delancey, courteously. 

Rodney Spelvin drew himself up, and 
in spite of her loathing for his villainy Jane 
could not help feeling what a noble and 
romantic figure he made. His face was pale, 
but his voice did not falter. 



310 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

"You are right," he said. "I am not a 
golfer. But with the help of this splendid 
girl here, I hope humbly to be one some day. 
Ah, I know what you are going to say," he 
went on, raising a hand. "You are about 
to ask how a man who has wasted his life 
as I have done can dare to entertain the mad 
dream of ever acquiring a decent handicap. 
But never forget," proceeded Rodney, in a 
low, quivering voice, "that Walter J. Travis 
was nearly forty before he touched a 
club, and a few years later he won the British 
Amateur." 

"True," murmured William. 

"True, true," said Mr. Delancey and Mr 
Brown. They lifted their bowler hats 
reverently. 

"I am thirty-three years old," continued 
Rodney, "and for fourteen of those thirty- 
three years I have been writing poetry — 
aye, and novels with a poignant sex-appeal, 
and if ever I gave a thought to this divine 
game it was but to sneer at it. But last 
summer I saw the light." 

"Glory! Glory!" cried Mr. Brown. 

"One afternoon I was persuaded to try a 
drive. I took the club with a mocking, 
contemptuous laugh." He paused, and a 
wild light came into his eyes. "I brought 
off a perfect pip," he said, emotionally. 
"Two hundred yards and as straight as a 
whistle. And, as I stood there gazing after 
the ball, something seemed to run up my 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 311 

spine and bite me in the neck. It was the 
golf-germ." 

"Always the way," said Mr. Brown. 
"I remember the first drive I ever made. I 
took a nice easy stance " 

"The first drive I made," said Mr. Delancey, 
"you won't believe this, but it's a fact, 
was a full " 

"From that moment," continued Rod- 
ney Spelvin, "I have had but one ambition 
— to somehow or other, cost what it might, 
get down into single figures." He laughed 
bitterly. "You see," he said, "I cannot 
even speak of this thing without splitting 
my infinitives. And even as I split my 
infinitives, so did I split my drivers. After 
that first heavenly slosh I didn't seem able 
to do anything right." 

He broke off, his face working. William 
cleared his throat awkwardly. 

"Yes, but dash it," he said, "all this 
doesn't explain why I find you alone with 
my sister in what I might call your lair." 

"The explanation is simple," said Rodney 
Spelvin. "This sweet girl is the only person 
in the world who seems able to simply and 
intelligently and in a few easily understood 
words make clear the knack of the thing. 
There is none like her, none. I have been to 
pro. after pro, but not one has been any 
good to me. I am a temperamental man, 
and there is a lack of sympathy and human 
understanding about these professionals 



312 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

which jars on my artist soul. They look at 
you as if you were a half-witted child. 
They chck their tongues. They make odd 
Scotch noises. I could not endure the 
strain. And then this wonderful girl, to 
whom in a burst of emotion I had confided 
my unhappy case, offered to give me private 
lessons. So I went with her to some of those 
indoor practising places. But here, too, my 
sensibilities were racked by the fact that 
unsympathetic eyes observed me. So I fixed 
up a room here where we could be alone." 

"And instead of going there," said 
Anastatia, "we are wasting half the after- 
noon talking." 

William brooded for a while. He was not 
a quick thinker. 

"Well, look here," he said at length, 
"this is the point. This is the nub of the 
thing. This is where I want you to follow 
me very closely. Have you asked Anastatia 
to marry you? " 

"Marry me?" Rodney gazed at him, 
shocked. "Have I asked her to marry me? 
I, who am not worthy to polish the blade of 
her niblick! I, who have not even a thirty 
handicap, ask a girl to marry me who was in 
the semi-final of last year's Ladies' Open! 
No, no. Bates, I may be a vers-libre poet, 
but I have some sense of what is fitting. I 
love her, yes. I love her with a fervour which 
causes me to frequently and for hours at a 
time lie tossing sleeplessly upon my pillow. 



PURIFICATION OF SPELVIN 313 
But I would not dare to ask her to marry 



me." 



Anastatia burst into a peal of girlish 
laughter. 

"You poor chump!" she cried. "Is 
that what has been the matter all this 
time! I couldn't make out what the 
trouble was. Why, I'm crazy about you. 
I'll marry you any time you give the word." 

Rodney reeled. 

"What!" 

"Of course I wiU." 

"Anastatia!" 

"Rodney!" 

He folded her in his arms. 

" Well, I'm dashed," said WiUiam. " It looks 
to me as if I had been making rather a lot of 
siUy fuss about nothing. Jane, I wronged you." 

"It was my fault." 

"No, no!" 

"Yes, yes!" 

"Jane!" 

"William!" 

He folded her in his arms. The two 
detectives, having entered the circumstances 
in their note-books, looked at one another 
with moist eyes. 

"Cyril!" said Mr. Brown. 

"Reggie!" said Mr. Delancey. 

Their hands met in a brotherly clasp. 

"And so," concluded the Oldest Mem- 
ber, "all ended happily. The storm-tossed 



314 THE HEART OF A GOOF 

lives of William Bates, Jane Packard, 
and Rodney Spelvin came safely at long last 
into harbour. At the subsequent wedding 
William and Jane's present of a complete 
golfing outfit, including eight dozen new balls, 
a cloth cap, and a pair of spiked shoes, was 
generally admired by all who inspected the 
gifts during the reception." 

"From that time forward the four of 
them have been inseparable. Rodney and 
Anastatia took a little cottage close to 
that of William and Jane, and rarely does 
a day pass without a close foursome between 
the two couples. William and Jane being 
steady tens and Anastatia scratch and 
Rodney a persevering eighteen, it makes 
an ideal match." 

"What does? " asked the secretary, waking 
from his reverie. 

"This one." 

"Which?" 

"I see," said the Oldest Member, sympa- 
thetically, "that your troubles, weighing 
on your mind, have caused you to follow my 
little narrative less closely than you might 
have done. Never mind, I will tell it again." 

"The story" (said the Oldest Member) 
"which I am about to relate begins at a 
time when " 

THE END 



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